Last Updated on Monday, 04 August 2008 09:37 Tuesday, 08 July 2008 13:44
The first will come when they discover the layout at the host course isn’t quite as benign as the opening two or three holes may lead them to believe.
The second may well be the fact the host venue isn’t real close to any distractions, like malls or movie theatres, which may in fact be a good thing in keeping the young players focused on the task at hand – becoming a national champion.
What they will find though is that the event itself will be as well run as any of the tournaments they’ve ever played in, given the fact their host’s boss, Grant Cammidge, has been down this road before.
Cammidge, the club’s general manager will use the valuable experience he gained in 1999 as the host pro of the National Junior Girls Championship in Stony Plain, about 25 kilometres west of his present location in this golf-mad area of the province. So for him this year’s challenge isn’t going to be anything he hasn’t seen, and done, before.
And he noted, he is truly looking forward to the opportunity to not only to showcase his great golf course, a par 72, 6,900-yard plus facility, but showcasing the challenge his course will offer this country’s best young male competitors.
In the past the Petroleum Club has hosted several major events, including the 1995 Edmonton Junior Championship; the 1996 and 2004 Alberta Seniors Championships; the 1997 Alberta PGA Stroke Play Championship; the 1998 Western Canada Junior Invitational; the 2002 Edmonton Ladies Golf Association Amateur Championship and the 2003 Edmonton Open, so this tournament is really nothing new, but it does set the course into a different realm, the host manager feels.
“Anytime you can host a national event, it’s a great thing for the golf course to get exposure across the country,” Cammidge said in an exclusive interview with Inside Golf about this tournament. “It’s a great opportunity as well, in this case, for some of our good juniors to get the chance to play and they have a good chance of doing well. We’re excited about it. It’s a good golf course and we’re up to the challenge.”
The process of playing host to the national finals started four years ago and comes to realization in August, from the 8th to the 13th, when the young guns tee it up and go after national recognition.
During the past 43 months as the Edmonton club has built toward the end goal, the membership of the private course has fully bought into the event, Cammidge noted. And well they should.
They have had exposure to big-time tournaments in the past, including the provincial boy’s championship and last year, the course hosted the qualifying round for the CN Canadian Women’s Open, which was played in Edmonton. Those events, plus the willingness of the members to get on-board with such undertakings, will make the young men on hand for the national finals feel like they’re on the tour, Cammidge noted.
“We have some work still ahead of us. Being a smaller club, it’s a bit more challenging for us. We may have to bring in some people from other courses to help us out. The one challenge though is our location in some ways, that we’re not really close to anything,” as the host site sits on the western outskirts of Edmonton, a fair hike from everyday commodities like gas stations, convenience stores, shopping malls and even hotels.
That of course means the entertainment choices for the players are limited to pretty well to playing golf or practicing golf, when they’re at the course. Thus finding something for the kids to do when they have some down time is one of the biggest challenges the organizing committee faces, although there are others.
“There’s also some challenge with transportation,” to and from the course, the manager continued. “But we did a really good job with that when we hosted the qualifying for the girls at the CN last year.”
While it’s the second time around for Cammidge in hosting national events, he said it’s not a duplication of what was done in 1999 in Stony Plain.
“I think this is just going to be that much better,” he said of not only the host club’s preparations but the talent level that will be on hand. “It will be a better challenge for the competitors. It’s always great to look back at the Alena Sharp’s (who won the National Girls Championship in 1999 and is now on the LPGA) and look ahead 10 years to see who might come out of this tournament in the future on the PGA tournament.”
The Petroleum Club’s head pro, Jeff Sveen, said the course will make the winner work to claim the title as the top young player in the country, but at the same time, it will give everyone an equal opportunity to ascend that throne.
“It’s a great test of golf, a fair test of golf,” he commented. “What you see is what you get. We’ve got different sizes of greens with subtle little breaks so I think a lot of the guys could have trouble with the greens. It is a great test of golf though and I think it will really determine the champion.”
The Petroleum Club will be able to put at least one of its own members into the championship, thanks to an exemption.
Brett MacGillivary is the junior club champion , and has had national experience before, so playing on his home course may be a slight advantage over other players, at least to start with, Sveen agreed.
“I think (Brett) the type of personality that they can keep their nerves under control. I think the advantage of playing here every day goes a long way.”
Sveen agreed that while the first few holes could well set the field up to feel comfortable on the course, the final trio of holes could well tear that mood apart in a hurry.
The first of those the 16th is a par-4 90 degree dogleg right, where a safe tee shot could leave an approach of more than 200 yards into the green. That hole is followed by another par-4, measuring to 436-yards and swinging slightly left and running uphill.
The final hole is a par-5 that paces out at 541-yards and is a great risk/reward type of hole. The big hitters can go for the green in two, but the penalty for missing is steep, as the green is fronted by water and there are a number of bunkers that could well come into play.
While that last hole could play a factor, Sveen feels it’s the two holes prior to that which could in the end, spell the difference between winning and walking away as a runner-up.
“Sixteen and 17, I feel, will probably make the difference in the tournament. I think not getting too aggressive there, keeping it in play off the tee shots will obviously be the most important things. Whoever can get it in the fairway on 16 and 17 will find it makes a big difference.”
Sveen doesn’t expect the course to undergo many changes for the national final, or any tricks to be added, but he does expect there will be a few differences from what the members of the club find when they tee it up.
“I think we’ll lengthen it a bit, but not too much. In the past we’ve heard of some golf courses making it so tough,” that it in fact embarrasses the players. “The guys playing here are trying to get (college) scholarships so we don’t want to be shooting in the high 70s. We want it to be a true test, but we also want it to be fair.”
Asked what it’s going to take to walk away with the national title, the course’s head pro said it becomes a matter of not being too aggressive but at the same time, not sitting back and waiting.
“Obviously getting off to a good start is important,” he noted. “Not shooting yourself out of it the first couple of rounds. The third and fourth rounds are where you have to get it going a bit more as you get more comfortable with the golf course.
“There is a lot of golf to be played, a lot of holes, so you don’t want to take yourself out of it. You are going to have some bad holes but you have to stay in it and make lots of birdies.
“The kids competing in something like this have balance. They’ve played a lot of tournament golf over the years. I like to see a little bit of passion out there. You know Tiger loses it once in a while but he gets right back in there, forgets about it and moves on.”
Anytime a course hosts a major amateur event, the success of the tournament isn’t based solely on how the players perform. What has to stand up to scrutiny is the manner in which the host club handled all the duties associated with the event, and includes everything from crowd control to food services to the availability of washroom facilities. Cammidge says he knows his course, and club, will stand up to those tests.
“I think from our standpoint, we judge it a success is what the kids have to say as they come off the golf course. You don’t want them coming off saying ‘This green was unputtable’ or ‘the hole was too long’ or ‘I couldn’t get to this from a certain point’.
“You want them to be positive about the course. You want to give them a golf course that they can play well. I think that’s what we have. If the wind comes up, there are a few holes that can be challenging but our golf course gives you a good mix. If it’s windy you can get out of it for a while,” as several holes are well protected by banks of trees, “so you can still have a good round.”
The tournament itself will see the provincial team event take place over the first two days, with a cut after 36-holes. In all, 156 players will tee it up to begin with looking to pad their resume´ for what could be the start of a great career in the world of golf.
Spectators are more than welcome to come out and watch the kids play, Cammidge said.
“It’s a great experience for the kids and a chance to see our course. We welcome spectators and hope there are lots that come out to watch. As a group, the management team is really excited to be involved in this and we want to give these kids a real experience. We feel we’re one of the top clubs in the Edmonton area and we want to showcase that with this tournament,” much as the kids competing want to showcase their talents in this event.”
Gord Montgomery is a sports reporter/photographer in Spruce Grove, Ab. He can be reached at noraltagolf.gmail.com.
By Gord Montgomery
About the writer: Gord Montgomery is the sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He has written for Inside Golf for the past four years with the majority of his coverage in north and central Alberta. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.insidegolf.ca