Golf club professionals and managers spend most of their time on mundane administrative matters or teaching. So they are pretty happy when they get the old competitive juices flowing in a real tournament for a real championship, just like the old days.
Most of players in the Nike Golf PGA of B.C. Club Professional Championship, held Monday and Tuesday at Royal Colwood, were pretty good in their playing days.
The top Island finisher was Lance McCullough, head pro at the Ridge Course at Cordova Bay, who played NCAA Div. 1 for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels and University of Houston Cougars.
McCullough was tied for fifth by shooting two 73s for a 6-over 146 in the 36-hole event that featured a purse of $15,000. The event has been held annually since 2006 and the field included 44 head, executive or head teaching pros from around the province.
“We’re all working for a living at our clubs, and as everybody knows the last 18 months have been crazy in our business, so I was a little rusty in terms of tournament play,” said McCullough.
And, to jump back into it on the most demanding of courses.
“Royal Colwood is a classic course that gives you nothing and challenges you on every hole,” said McCullough.
“There are not many opportunities to make birdies, so very few opportunities to catch up.”
That was evident in that winner Padraic O’Rourke, head pro at Chateau Fairmont Whistler, was the lone golfer to break par at 2-under 138 in leading wire-to-wire to pocket $2,700.
O’Rourke lists Victoria Golf Club as his favourite course in B.C.. The native of Dublin, Ireland, no doubt found Royal Colwood to his liking, too, this week.
Jesse Crowe of the Overlander Golf and Events Centre in Armstrong and David Zibrik of Point Grey tied for second place at 3-over 143 to win $1,750 each.
But none had quite the homecoming tale of McCullough, who was a junior golfer at Royal Colwood, and was caddied this week by his dad Craig.
“It was a pretty special tournament for me on many levels,” said the younger McCullough.
O’Rourke and defending-champion Brad Clapp were co-leaders after the first round with 1-under 69s. It was also an Island homecoming for Clapp, who faded to a tied-for-seventh-place 147.
Clapp learned as much in the classroom as he did on courses during his standout golf career with the Camosun College Chargers. The playing part led to four years as a touring pro on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada — with four top-10 placings and one tournament victory and being named 2012 PGA of B.C. player of the year — following three B.C. colleges team titles and a second place at the national championship during his Chargers career.
The classroom part, in Camosun’s professional golf management program, led to a business diploma and advanced diploma in golf management. That was the gateway to a career in the sport in clubhouses as assistant pro at Sun Rivers in Kamloops, as co-founder of the Chilliwack Golf Academy, director of golf at Cultus Lake club and now as general manager of Ledgeview in Abbotsford, the club that produced PGA Tour players Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor.
His top-10 this week showed he still has it on the course, as well, as one would expect from a winner of more than 20 pro tournaments, including the 2015 Vancouver Open. But the Dick Munn Memorial Trophy, hoisted last year by Clapp, was lifted Tuesday by O’Rourke
Lindsay Bernakevitch of Victoria Club is a two-time champion in the event and he tied for seventh this time around at 147. Jared Siminoff of Crown Isle was the other Islander to crack the top-10, also in seventh at 147.