Birchbank Golf Course groomed to greet golfers

Club pro Jeff Papillon poised for provincial championship

Birchbank Golf Course is expecting up to 150 youths between the ages of 13 and18 to tee it up for the provincial championship this weekend.

And along with the golfers, organizers expect up to 1,000 more family, officials and spectators to turn out for one of the biggest events of the summer.

Birchbank is host to the B.C. Junior Golf Championship that hits the fairways with a qualifying round on Sunday.

A tournament of this stature takes a great deal of preparation and volunteers to make it happen but club professional Jeff Papillon is game for the challenge.

“Hosting the tournament is making sure that everything that is out of the tournament function is ready,” said Papillon.

“So making sure the golf course is ready, the practice facilities, the clubhouse, all those sorts of things.”

The B.C. Golf Association (BCGA) takes care of the business end of the tournament, organizing and marking the course, determining tee and pin placements.

However, making sure the course is in tip-top shape to start, is up to Papillon and head greens keeper Greg Kennedy.

“Greg’s got the golf course absolutely phenomenal right now,” said Papillon. “We might try to speed up the greens a little bit and the rough may not get cut a couple days towards the end but that’s about it.”

According to Kennedy, everything is in prime shape, the fairways groomed and the rough as lush as it’s ever been.

While the greens and tees suffered from the preponderance of wet weather, they were able to treat the infestation and “nip it in the bud” before it became a problem, said Kennedy a 25-year turf specialist.

The course will be maxed out as far as length, running close to 7,000 yards from the tips but the caliber of  the junior golfers’ play dictates its length.

“Some of these 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old kids hit it further than most of us can,” said Papillon.

In addition to caring for the golf course and surrounding gardens, staff and volunteers will prepare fresh fruit and refreshments for golfers, organize a practice area, move their offices into a motor home to accommodate BCGA officials, act as timers and spotters, make arrangements for media and a number of other tasks.

“We’ve brought in a ton of volunteers, which are the crux of the whole thing because they are the ones that make it go.”

Organizers are still seeking help. To volunteer contact Bill King or the Birchbwank Golf Course.