Madison Valley - Ladies of Golf Week 3

Karen Rice

Week 3 in our history of Madison Meadows and the Ladies of Golf introduces us to Karen Rice. Karen and her husband Greg were a part of the original landscape of the Madison Meadows G.C. perhaps without even realizing it as neither one played golf (yet…)! 

Karen moved to the Madison Valley in 1966 with her Mom & Dad and her younger brother. Karen also has two older sisters one of whom joined them a year or so later. Karen’s father was a Highway Patrolman in Montana and also served here in the Madison Valley. Karen’s mom was active in the Montana Rainbow Girls and worked at the Talc Mine. Her folks also ran Hickey’s Motel (for our newer residents and younger readers this was a motel that stood where the current Lone Elk Mall, food bank, real estate office and coffee shop are!) for a while when they first came to town. 

Karen graduated Ennis High School in 1970. Karen’s class took part in getting the bond through to build the high school, the first one! Karen was in a time when there were not a lot of sports options for girls in school except track, cheerleading and drill team. Karen stayed in Ennis and worked PT for and accounting outfit called Montana Management. They did a lot of the bills and accounting services for the local businesses in town. She remembers getting to do bills for Doc Losee! After that she went to work for First Madison Valley Bank, n/k/a Madison Valley Bank. Somewhere in there the Harrison boys would travel over the hill looking to have some fun and Karen was swept off her feet by Greg! They were married April 27th , 1974 (yes, that will be 50 years this year!) and settled into ranch life at Rice Ranches in Harrison. Karen had two children, Collin and Kristi. They also welcomed a foster daughter, Katie in 1995. 

Karen was a ranch wife, getting down and dirty when needed and also managing and keeping the books for Rice Ranches. Her father-in-law, Bob, was approached about some land owned by Rice Ranches west of Ennis up on the bench outside of town. In connection with Dan Leadbetter a deal was struck to purchase and develop the 9 hole golf course. Part of the deal with Rice Ranches was free golf for life for the Rice family! Well, that being said Karen and Greg had no choice but to pick up those stix and begin their search for the perfect game! 

Karen became involved with the ladies at Madison Meadows around ’86-’87 when Mary & Ed Mattson were brought in as the pro’s. She took lessons from Mary and succumbed (as most of us did) to that southern charm, love of golf and desire to be a part of the golf community in whatever area we could. Karen has never looked back and continues with a strong presence today in Ladies Golf and Junior Golf! 

Karen remembers fondly the Themed Ladies Invitational tournaments, the joy and work in setting them up but mostly the laughter and social aspect of the game we love. Madison Meadows also used to do a lot of fundraising events for a variety of projects for the club. One year she remembers a Tree Fund, and in order to raise money to buy trees for the course they sold liquor as a fundraiser! She’s pretty sure it was illegal but it raised enough money to get the trees they needed and then some! Karen naturally was the scorer at most of the events, being the numbers gal she is and coached by Mary Mattson on the importance of rules and how to score tournaments and events. One of her favorite tourneys they used to do was the Father’s day Skin’s Tourney every year in June! It was a two day event filled with golf, prizes, money and a ton of laughter and fun. The match play/skins tourney appealed to all skill levels in golf and attracted a lot of teams, men and women, from outside Ennis. She’s seen a lot of course changing dynamics through the last 40 years. Karen has served as the Ladies Golf Association president twice and served on the Executive Board for a number of years. 

Karen was the delegate and represented Madison Meadows in the Montana State Women’s Golf Association (MSWGA). She later became President of the MSWGA and was one of two women who sat in on a Men’s Association meeting at Riverside CC, which in turn, many years later after countless talks, push back and comradery, led to a merge of the Women’s Association with the Men’s forming one Montana State Golf Association (MSGA) in August of 2017. Most notably Karen has been an advocate for junior golf in our state and currently sits as chairman for K-18 Junior Development Program. This program focuses on getting schools and courses to offer programs that introduce golf to the kids at a young age. Also trying to get golf equipment and funds to get golf in PE programs. 

Karen has participated in Montana State Golf Tournaments for 35 years. Her first State tourney was in 1989 and she finally got her handicap down enough to compete with a 36. Last year she competed with a 22 handicap, so she says there is improvement! Karen doesn’t bet on her golf game much but she plays for the love of the game and the social aspect to connect with other women. Golf is a sport you can play your whole life or pick up and give it a go at any time! Know your rules (they’re not that scary), respect each other and have FUN!. 

2nd Annual Ladies Day Event on June 13th, Call the Pro Shop for more information. Instagram: madisonmeadowsladiesgolf



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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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