Colin Pasitney hits a drive off the 18th tee while Jace Shannon, centre, and Christian Hansen look on. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
The road to collegiate golf runs through the Border City.
Seventy-two of the best up-and-coming Saskatchewan and Alberta golfers paid a visit to the Lloydminster Golf and Curling Centre on Saturday and Sunday for the chance to compete in the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour (MJT).
Nobody among this field of 11 to 19-year-old boys and girls hit for par over the two-day competition, but that’s to be expected of anyone attempting to best the tough championship course.
“It’s hard,” said Hudson Chernoff, 15, who made the eight-hour trek from Estevan, Sask., to play in the tournament. “There is a lot of water and bushes. You have to be pretty consistent on the fairway.”
Chernoff carded a 113 on the first day of competition before improving to a mark of 102 on the second day.
His 215-stroke total placed him 24th in the juvenile boys event with Lloydminster’s Kobe Braham pulling up the rear on a score of 219.
Jeff Chambers, Saskatchewan MJT tournament director, said the course is very demanding on their athletes, but the opportunity to give the kids a chance to experience playing it while enjoying the hospitality provided by the golf course’s staff makes it a desired destination.
He said Lloydminster Golf and Curling Centre head professional Marty Wheaton is a great promoter of junior golf and he treats them incredibly well during the stop by providing the kids with giveaways on the first day of competition and considerably topping up the available prizes at the conclusion of the event.
Vaughn Holbeche, who counts the Lloydminster Golf and Curling Centre as his home course, said the weekend marked his first chance to play at an MJT tournament this season. He said each of their events across Saskatchewan are always competitive and a lot of fun.
“The main reason I joined (the MJT) was Austin Morrison, who used to work here,” said Holbeche, 16, shortly after walking off the course with a total score of 176 for 13th place in the juvenile boys division. “He was really into this tour. He played in a bunch of events and he had nothing but good things to say.”
Lloydminster’s Austin Wolos finished tied for 11th place with a total score of 182 in the bantam boys category, while local golfer Reid Turcotte shot 91 on the first day and 89 on the second for a total of 180 and 10th place in the junior boys division.
The Border City’s Jason Kim carded a 10-stroke improvement for a score of 81 on the final day of competition to finish second in the collegiate boys grouping.
“It’s the most organized tour that they’re going to get to play on,” said Chambers. “They learn competition in a less stressful way as far as we guide them along with the rules. We’re not out there to be hard on them. We’re trying to learn with them and we want to have them use this as an avenue to keep record of their scores, so over the years it’s easier to get scholarships.”
Chernoff said the MJT brings him to different Prairie golf courses throughout the summer months for competition. He said weekend stops like this one can be a bit tougher on the card and his parent’s car, but they’re still a treat to play.
“I played with Cole Nagy (this weekend) and he was really good,” said Chernoff, referencing the fifth-place finisher in the juvenile boys division. “He told me some stuff about penalties and he was fun to play with.”