Young golfers from the Cowichan Valley were among the top performers at the BC Golf Association’s Bantam and Novice boys and girls championships held at Mount Brenton Golf Course in Chemainus last week.
Sophia Mackenzie of Cowichan Bay and Arbutus Ridge Golf Club finished first in the novice girls competition, and Zachary Grisdale of Mill Bay and Cowichan Golf & Country Club placed third in the novice boys event.
Mackenzie pulled away from the field with 41 points on the first day of competition, nine more than the next-best player, Sarah Kim of Victoria. She added 29 points on the second day to finish with 70, seven better than Kim and nine better than Nanaimo’s Angela Zou.
“Seven points is pretty close,” said Mackenzie, 13. “I was pretty nervous. It was my first time playing in a big tournament and I didn’t know anybody there.”
Mackenzie had 11 birdies and five eagles over the two days of competition.
Travelling across the province can be part of the fun of competing in big events, but Mackenzie was happy to be golfing close to home this time.
“I would rather it be close to home,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to stay in a hotel right now.”
Even though Mount Brenton isn’t far from her home course, she hadn’t golfed there before.
“It’s a nice course,” she commented. “It’s pretty hard to play, but it’s nice.”
Mackenzie started golfing at the age of five, and enjoys the sport for a lot of reasons.
“I like playing it,” she related. “I like that it’s outdoors and not in a gym. There are a lot of nice places I golf at. It’s really fun.”
Despite showing early promise, Mackenzie hasn’t set any big goals for herself, yet.
“I want to play in a lot more tournaments,” she said. “That’s what I want to do right now.”
Grisdale was steady over the two-day novice boys competition, posting 30 points in round one and 28 in round two for a total of 58, four back of the leaders, Lucas Vizzutti of Myrtle Point in Powell River and Shaughnessy’s Luke Van Alstine with 62 points apiece. He was one point ahead of Williams Lake’s Brody Brook. Grisdale totalled six birdies over the two days.
A combined total of 82 players in four divisions competed in the championships amid COVID-19 regulations.
“Cups were modified to reduce contact points,” Mount Brenton head pro Jan Best noted. “Parents were only allowed to drop kids off and then basically leave. There was no hanging around allowed.”
He added there were 15 volunteers and four rules officials to oversee the two-day event.
Best agreed with Mackenzie’s assessment that Mount Brenton is a challenge to play, with tricky pin placements, conveniently placed hazards and fairway doglegs.
“Mount Brenton does it again,” noted Best. “Strong defence by the course. Not an easy track.”
The bantam boys competition was won by Daniel Bennett of Saanichton and Gorge Vale Golf Club, who tied for the second-best score in round one, with 72, then blew away the field with a score of 64 on day two, finishing at 136, six strokes better than Roy Baek of Coquitlam and Swan-e-Set Bay Resort, who shot 142 (72-70). In third was Ryan Best of Vernon and Predator Ridge Golf Club at 143 (72-71).
In the bantam girls division, Michelle Liu from Shaughnessy led the field of 18 players with a 142 from rounds of 72 and 70. She also recorded eight birdies.
Chelsea Truong of Victoria (75-73–148) was second, with Yeji Kwon of Port Coquitlam’s Westwood Plateau course (81-68–149) placing third.
With files from Don Bodger