City’s golfers calmly drain putts

NANAIMO – There were certainly many highlights for local golfers this past summer on the links.

Once every year or two, I fleetingly discover success on the golf course.

Like many people, my love/hate relationship with the sport has lasted for most of a lifetime. It has encompassed years of frustration, hundreds of lost golf balls and countless rounds that began with high hopes but quickly deteriorated into despair.

But it was a different story last Friday. Playing nine holes on a local course, all of a sudden the game was simple. Drive the ball into the fairway, hit an approach shot onto the green and roll putts into the cup. Easy. All past disappointments were forgotten. I had finally figured the game out.

Until two days later, when I played the same nine holes on the same course. Full of confidence I opened with a par. But suddenly, although I didn’t seem to do anything differently, the secret to success disappeared. Drives flew into the woods, approach shots were duffed through the rough and putts showed no clue as to where the cup was. The result was 13 strokes worse than two days previously. So much for having the game figured out. Such is golf.

My only consolation is that the game can be fickle for others as well. Sometimes even the pros. Certainly this year’s American Ryder Cup team must have thought they were firmly in control last weekend as they headed into the final day of competition in Medinah, Illinois. And then on Sunday it all slipped away, with the underdog European team staging an emotional and record comeback.

There were certainly many highlights for local golfers this past summer on the links. Let’s start with Sandy Harper, who at 55 was in his first year of eligibility for the B.C. senior men’s championship. With the tournament held here in Nanaimo, Harper dominated the three-day event to win by 11 strokes. Harper also made history by becoming the first British Columbian to have won the B.C. junior boys’, men’s amateur, open championship and senior men’s championship during his career. Runner-up at the senior men’s was Nanaimo’s Tony Hatchwell. Both he and Harper therefore qualified as members of Team B.C. to compete at the Canadian senior men’s championships in Quebec.

It was a good season for Nanaimo’s Zach Anderson, who rallied from behind to win the CN Future Links Pacific Championships at Morningside. He also tied for seventh at the B.C. juvenile boys’ championships in Penticton and 12th at the B.C. junior boys’ championships. Also at the junior competition, Mark Valliere from Nanaimo tied for 13th overall. Valliere, 17, had a fourth place finish at the Canadian Junior Boys’ Championships in Nova Scotia.

At the Pacific Northwest Women’s Amateur Golf Championships, Nanaimo’s Amanda Baker advanced all the way to the final of the match-play event this past summer. Baker, 20, is now in her final year at North Carolina State University and hoping to make golf her future.

Congratulations also go to this year’s club champions from the Nanaimo Golf Club. The women’s club champion was Kim Evans, with Sherry Coutts the runner-up. Senior women’s champion was Margaret Munro, ahead of runner-up Jan Jarvie. In the women’s low net competition, Will Simons took first and Joyce Lust second.

In the men’s division, the club champion was Al Jensen. Yun Tae Ji won the low net category. Richard Nemeth claimed the senior men’s title, with Jeff Oxler the low net winner. In the super senior division, Ron Berry was first; Bruce Avis the low net champ. Now during the off season, all Nanaimo Golf Club members will be watching with interest as construction gets underway on a new clubhouse for their facility.

From the Winchelsea View Golf Course, pro Ian Harper sends word that this year’s club championship was won by Nick Bayliss. Low net winner was Ron Kerney.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.

Ian Thorpe writes about sports Saturdays.

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