Get to know local golf pro Kari Phenix and learn about Rochester’s ladies leagues
By LuAnn Buechler and Cindy Jo Dickson

“Gentleman Only, Ladies Forbidden” used to be the perception, or myth, of the meaning of the word “golf”. Historically, women might have believed it to be true. However, women’s golf is alive and well in the Rochester area.

Oaks Golf Club in Hayfield recently brought in Kari Phenix, an LPGA Class A golf professional and native of Hayfield, as the head golf professional and general manager. Phenix says she knew when she was young that she would be a golf professional. She and her parents played golf at Zumbro Valley Recreation Club (ZVRC) when she was a child. A group of members from ZVRC pooled their money and opened Oaks Golf Club in 1977. Phenix played on the Hayfield High School team that was the first to bring home a state golf trophy. She then went to school in Arizona for business management and started her golf career in Leesburg, Virginia as an assistant golf pro. She moved back to Minnesota and worked as head golf pro in New Richland and then played on the Futures (now Symetra) Tour for a few years. In 1997 she worked one season at Oaks. She spent the last 22 years in Florida at the historic Fort Myers Country Club, a course that began with Thomas Edison and was played by Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.

The ladies league at Oaks Golf Club is a 9-hole league on Tuesday evenings. Phenix will be providing lessons to anyone who wants to learn or sharpen their skills at any level.  Phenix loves the concept of the game, the skill of creatively crafting the shot, the fact that you call penalties on yourself and the integrity involved. “You learn a lot about a person by how they act on the golf course,” she shares. One interesting note is that Toni Phenix, Kari’s mother, was the first Ladies League President at Oaks.

New to Oaks Golf Club is fling golf, which is a hybrid of lacrosse, baseball and golf.  It takes only one club so no need to make a decision on which club to use. You can play with others using regular clubs or as a whole group playing fling golf; you book your tee time the same way. Fling clubs can be rented at Oaks, or you can buy them online. Fling is great for reunions, families, corporate and nonprofit golf events because it makes the game inclusive to all players at all levels.

Hadley Creek’s ladies league, known as the Fine Nine and Wine, play any time of the day on Wednesdays and host a 5:30 p.m. shotgun start event and potluck once a month to build community among their members. Last year they added a senior ladies league, known as Lady Legends, who play on Monday mornings. Most recently, the young woman coaches from the First Tee program have created a young ladies golf social league (for 10- to 16-year-olds) that meets Thursdays from 5:30-7 p.m. at Hadley Creek in June, July and August.

Rochester public courses host ladies leagues in the summer. Eastwood has ladies leagues May through September. Their 18-hole league plays on Monday mornings and a 9-hole league plays on Thursday mornings. Northern Hills Ladies League plays every Tuesday morning and afternoon from the first week of May until September. Soldiers Field hosts their Nifty Nine Hole ladies league or the SMFWGA 18-hole league on Wednesday mornings. For more information on City of Rochester golf courses visit

LuAnn Buechler is a member at Hadley Creek and hosts an annual Women’s Golf Retreat in Arizona, at Lone Tree Golf Club owned by Rochester native Greg Avant and managed by Ms. Keeley Bina, director of merchandising. For more information, visit Events.

Cindy Jo Dickson is an interior design consultant and loves all things golf.