The Milby Golf Club in Sherbrooke is not for the short-tempered. The greens are jam-packed with challenging undulations harder to read than James Joyce’s Ulysses.
“Those greens were really similar to Augusta National,” said Yukon head coach Jeff Wiggins, referring to the home of the Masters championship. “Other than them being a little bit smaller than Augusta, that’s what they’re like.”
Yukon’s golf team had their putting skills put to the test at the Canada Summer Games last week. Trever Harris, James McGrath and Parker Olson each carded good rounds but struggled to move up the leaderboard during the four-round tournament that ended Saturday.
Harris, McGrath and Olson placed 33rd, 34th and 35th, in front of an N.W.T. golfer at the bottom of the standings.
“I was expecting to go mid 70s, low 70s, and I got on the course and nothing was going my way,” said Harris. “I seven-putted one hole on the greens – the greens were that bad.”
Harris hit an 85 in his second round for his best and ended with 96 on Saturday for his worst.
The 16-year-old played at the B.C. Amateur Championships and the B.C. Junior Championship this summer, but competing at the nation-wide Canada Games really brought out the nerves, he said.
“This is probably the biggest competition I’ve ever played in my life and it got to me,” said Harris. “The nerves, the camera guys, people watching me. Every tee shot felt like I was on the first tee. There were just people watching me and I’ve never had that.
“Another thing was we weren’t allowed Bushnells – range finders – so we had to do it the old fashion way,” he added.
McGrath, 17, improved with every round in Sherbrooke. He opened with a 99 and sliced that down to an 84 by the weekend.
“I just told myself to go out there and have fun,” said McGrath of his last round. “And I was kind of tired of shooting in the 90s … I ended up getting a few birdies and played pretty good.
“There was no pressure (on Saturday). The first few days I was pretty nervous.”
McGrath also competed at the B.C. Junior Championship and won the junior title at the Yukon Golf Championships in July, but the playing at Canada Games takes the cake.
“It was unreal, probably one of the funnest things I’ve ever done,” said McGrath.
Olson had nerves of steel in Sherbrooke. The 15-year-old was the most consistent of the three Yukoners, hitting his handicap of 90 in his first round and logging a 94 for his worst.
“It was awesome,” said Olson. “That was really my first tournament I’ve been to outside of the Yukon and it was just awesome seeing everybody there and meeting other people.”
“I think the golfers did good, they just struggled with the golf course really bad,” said Wiggins. “James struggled with his swing. Parker did excellent. I think he played to his ability. If anything, I think he struggled with his putting a little bit.”
For the team competition, in which the scores from each jurisdiction’s top two golfers on the day are accumulated and put towards a standing, Yukon placed last, five strokes behind N.W.T.
“From a coaching standpoint, I was happy with all of them,” said Wiggins. “There has never been three golfers I’ve worked with better than those three to coach. In my opinion, they were the best ambassadors for the Yukon Territory.”
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