I have so many stories to tell about my trip there, many of which will appear here in the coming days.
I had a little business to tend to in Victoria last Saturday but otherwise, the five days spent on Vancouver Island were relaxing with the family and spending some time with fellow conventioners.
I have some relatives in Victoria on both sides of my family – my father’s brother and his wife (Uncle Mike and Aunt Linda) retired to the city about two years ago so we had dinner with them on Sunday night after my round at Royal Colwood GCC. The dinner was tremendous but how was the golf? You’ll have to wait to find out but I have pictures of my experience at Colwood and will share them with you at another time.
My cousin Thomas also lives in Victoria. He is the son of my mother’s brother Bill, who lives on the interior of the island and also made the trip to Victoria on his motorcycle to have lunch with us. Harris would love these two guys – my uncle Bill used to always try to give me pot when he’d come visit us. Problem was I was only about 16 years old at the time and my mother obviously didn’t approve. Tom is an artist in Victoria, a real cool guy who I haven’t seen in about 15 years. He also likes to partake in the Boss from what I understand. The photo below is of the three of us after lunch. Great time!
The non-golfing highlight in Victoria was our evening at Butchart Gardens with the rest of the attendees of the convention. There were about 95 people in our delegation and we had a private dinner at the facility, supposedly very rare on Saturday nights and a coup for the organizer of our trip. This is because Saturday is their busiest night, as they have a huge lightshow that takes place at 9pm on that night.
It sounds corny but I’m telling you that this lightshow was absolutely mesmerizing – it wasn’t just a fireworks display, it was almost like a visual opera. I know that sounds strange but anyone who has seen the show there would likely attest to the fact that it is just simply tremendous. Music is played, mostly classical stuff while all sorts of different ‘scenes’ take place with the lights. Truly extraordinary!
I also played the Mountain Course at Bear Mountain while in Victoria. I may talk a bit more about this experience as well down the road, as the quality of the course exceeded my expectations.
On Tuesday, we flew into Kelowna, rented a Ford Taurus Crossover (not a bad car actually!) and made the one hour drive north to Vernon, where we were staying with friends at their ‘summer home’. A truly spectacular place that sits high above Lake Okanagan in a resort called ‘The Outback’.
While there, I made long drives to play two highly-thought of new courses: Tobiano GC, the 2008 ScoreGolf choice for top new Canadian course and Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club, the ultra-exclusive new Richard Zokol/Rod Whitman/Armen Suny design in Quilchena which is the strong front-runner for this year’s award.
Again, you’ll have to wait for my detailed report but I will say that one of the courses may have provided me with the best golf experience of my lifetime. Yes, maybe even better than Oakmont and Riviera! You’ll have to keep tuning in to find out…
I was also scheduled to play Predator Ridge in Vernon but we sadly got rained out on Friday. Still, once the rain cleared, I went boating with our host and his two sons, which was quite a lot of fun.
So I have four pretty incredible stories to tell in the days ahead!
We got back into town around midnight on Sunday morning and I had no time for rest or jetlag (three hour time difference), as I had the fifth leg of the Niagara Men’s Tour to play at LochNess Links.
I was the defending champion of this event, winning last year in a virtual monsoon with a stellar score of 74. I’ve always had a fondness for LochNess Links/Hunters Pointe, a links-style design that doesn’t really play like a true links (course isn’t really suited for the ground game) but it was relatively firm yesterday.
I must have been a bit tired out of the gates, as I opened with three consecutive bogeys. The TSN turning point came on the tough, uphill par four 4th. I hit into one of the three little pot bunkers in the middle of the fairway and had to punch out, as these things are quite deep. Looking at about 140 yards or so for my third and looking a fourth consecutive bogey in the face, I proceeded to stiff my shot about three feet from the pin and knock that in for the satisfying par.
Still, I’d bogey the little par three fifth and also the long par three 8th to fall to +5 on the day. However, I somehow started putting good golf shots together and started making putts in bunches, as I’d birdie the 9th hole, bogey the par three 15th, birdie the short par four 16th and par everything else, going one under on my last ten holes to shoot a very respectable 76 (+4) on the day, my lowest score on the Tour this year.
Overall, scores were low and my 76 gave me a ninth place finish, five shots back of the winner on the day. I move up to 15th position on the overall standings after the points reset, as our worst point total out of the first five events gets dropped before the Tour Finale at Whirlpool GC on Saturday August 29th.
The boys all fared well on Sunday: Harry shot a 77 and Cal was 78. Harry is just inside the ‘Exempt’ zone for next year at 24th position (the top 25 at the end of the year are exempt from qualifying for next year) while Cal moves down slightly to 31st.
I can’t say I’ve ever really scored well at Whirlpool but I do like the golf course and I think I can put a good round together in a couple weeks. My putting seems to have come around a bit and my ball striking is better than it’s been all year. A good recipe for success!
Props also to Harry for almost breaking par today while beating Brian B 5&4 in his Langley Cup semifinal to set up a tremendous Cal versus Harris final. Harry bogeyed 18 to shoot 72 on the nose and just miss his second subpar round of his life. That should be a good final to watch and I’ll be sure to be in the front row for that one!
I’ll start my writeups tomorrow on my BC golf experiences, going in order from when I played them. Hope to see you back!