Dawson City’s Walter Tindall putts on the fifth green during the Faro Golf Tournament on July 14. The course and the tournament is now in its 20th year. (Jim McMynn/Yukon News)

Faro golfers celebrate 20 years with record-sized tourney

Thirty-seven teams try for birdies while avoiding bears

If you could go back 20 years to tell Gary Jones and his friends as they started to construct a golf course, using spray paint to outline greens and PVC pipes for pins, they’d host the 20th annual Faro Golf Tournament in 2017, they’d be skeptical.

“When we first started it was all for fun, just to give us something to do,” said Jones. “Originally this was not in the picture — none of this was in the picture.

“It’s not a designed course by Greg Norman or Jack Nicklaus or anybody, but we have some golfers in this town with some vision and here’s where we are 20 years later — it’s unbelievable. It’s all by evolution and a little madness.”

The Faro Golf Course has indeed reached its 20th year, as has the Faro Golf Tournament.

The 20th annual tournament, which wrapped up on July 15, saw a record turnout with 148 players on 37 teams.

“I don’t want to tell you too much because it’s the best kept secret ever,” said Whitehorse’s Val Pike, who played on the winning team. “I tell you, they put on a fabulous tournament. The course was in fabulous shape. They do a great job.

“You really feel like part of the community because you’re actually in the community while you’re golfing.”

The Faro Golf Course, which includes a driving range, isn’t just on town land — it’s in the town. The nine-hole par 32 course winds through the town, crossing roads and brushing up against buildings.

Jones, who is club president, compares the course to a par 3 executive course, but it can be tougher than some “with the narrow fairways and small greens and a lot of the trees that jump out in front of you when you shoot — and bears,” he said.

And yes, there are occasionally bears — the scariest of natural hazards. There were four or five furry spectators watching play last week.

“Kudos to the conservation officer who was very busy keeping everyone safe all weekend,” said Pike. “We only had one bear incident ourselves. We were on the second hole … I was on the hill taking my shot and just glanced over as I was swinging and there was a little bear right there. But he didn’t bother us, he just kept on going.”

The joke of the weekend: “What kind of stroke do you have to take if you pick up your ball and run because there’s a bear behind you?” said Pike.

Pike, along with husband Mark and fellow Whitehorse couple Stu MacKay and Cindy Fleischman, took first place in the best-ball scramble tournament with four-under par after 18 holes.

They tied a Whitehorse team of Rob Fordham, Scott MacDonald, Steve Wort and Kevin Chowen, but the tie was broken using front-nine scores.

Communities from throughout Yukon were represented in this year’s tournament, as was Edmonton and even the U.K. thanks to a couple from England who summer in Haines Junction.

“This year we did encourage people to golf early if they could by giving them a 10 per cent rebate if they could do their second round before noon on Friday to free up Friday afternoon and all day Saturday for the out-of-town teams,” said club treasury secretary June Hampton.

The tournament included two hole-in-one prizes, one for $20,000 and the other Polaris Ranger UTV, neither of which was won.

Over 80 people and businesses helped make the event possible with donations ranging from $20 up into the thousands.

“Luckily Lotteries Yukon helped us out this year to help us buy four brand new carts, so we had a total of 10 carts this year,” said tournament coordinator Helen Wagantall.

“Golf carts are put aside for seniors and (people with) mobility (issues) — they get the first kick of the cat with the golf carts.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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