As the LPGA Tour winds down its season, one thing is clear: Nobody has yet come close to threatening Sandra Post as Canada’s most successful professional golfer.
Post, 62, won eight LPGA events. Her first win was a major, the 1968 LPGA Championship, where she defeated Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth in a playoff. In 1979, she was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year. In 2003, Post was awarded the Order of Canada, the country’s highest honour.
These days Post teaches at her golf school at the Glen Eagle Golf Club in Bolton, Ont., and also at the Diamond in the Ruff, a peaceful, nine-hole course in Muskoka, Ont. Post also worked with novice golfer Loral Dean to help the beginner learn the basics of the game. Dean wrote a book from those experiences titled “Sandra Post and Me,” and it provides a course of action that would be useful to any new golfer.
Given Post’s accomplishments, it is interesting how rare it is that a discussion occurs at clubs about who is the best female professional from Canada. Maybe that is because Post is the clear winner in this category. Or maybe it is because so much attention is focused on men’s golf that the women’s game seems almost an afterthought.
In Canada, there is endless emphasis on how Mike Weir, in particular, is faring, and far too little on how the women are doing. A more balanced approach is in order.
First, a review: Dawn Coe-Jones own three times in the ’90s. Lisa Walters won three times, Gail Graham twice and Jennifer Wyatt once. Lorie Kane has won four times, the last time in 2001, nearly a decade ago. Of these players, Kane is the only player still active, and although she is 45, she believes she can win again. Kane is working with Sean Foley, who has become rather well-known recently for working with Tiger Woods.
“It’s cyclical,” Post said the other day of the fact that Canadian women were winning if not regularly at least occasionally until a decade ago. “It is difficult today and a challenge for everyone, not just Canadians, on the LPGA Tour because of the limited amount of tournaments in the U.S.”
With fewer tournaments and the cost of travel to international LPGA events, the small number of Canadians face quite a challenge. Still Post, who follows the LPGA – and the Canadians in particular – closely, is hopeful.
She is especially keen on Jennifer Kirby, the 2009 Canadian Women’s Amateur and Junior champion and a junior at the University of Alabama. There is the top-notch amateur Maude Aimee-LeBlanc, a senior at Purdue University, who had the lowest stroke average last year in the Big Ten. Post also likes the prospects for Stephanie Sherlock, who turned pro this year after reaching the semi-finals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. There is also Sue Kim, who like Kirby, Aimee-LeBlanc and Sherlock, has been a member of Team Canada. Kim also turned pro this year.
It would not be right, meanwhile, to forget Alena Sharp in this discussion. Sharp, from Hamilton, Ont. is 59th on the LPGA Tour’s money list with $126,811. She has been playing some fine golf this year and could win anytime. Meanwhile, Jessica Shepley, 27, who was born in Owen Sound, Ont., and lives in Orlando, won in May on the CN Women’s Tour. She, like the majority of the players named here, has the LPGA Tour in her sights.
As for Post, she will continue to keep a close watch on Canadian prospects. She attended an Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Association event recently at the Richmond Hill Golf and Country Club just north of Toronto, where 138 high school girls were playing their championship. Post asked how many were serious golfers.
“Thirty percent said they would like to get a golf scholarship,” Post recalled. “Grass roots, and early introduction to the game, that is one key. I really enjoyed seeing so many girls from across Ontario gathered for their own championship.”
Many years have passed since Post was making her mark on the LPGA Tour. As a teacher, and somebody who is involved in Canadian golf on many levels, including television work, she remains passionate about the game. That passion was her hallmark. She was only a teenager when she moved on her own from Oakville, Ont., to Boynton Beach, Fla. Post was going to find a way to develop her game.
She developed it all right, and she has won four more LPGA events than any other Canadian golfer. In her prime, a caddie known as Stickman said this about Post: “She’s tough. She’s gutsy. She’s got all the shots. She wants to win, thinks she can win every time she tees it up. She’s always at that flag, always giving the full putt. Week in and week out pick up the paper and there’s her name. Sandra Post, the Canadian, the Golden Canadian. The lady can flat play.”
The lady who could flat play would like nothing more than to see another Golden Canadian come along.