The Birchbank Golf Course welcomed Golf Canada and the CN Future Links for the Western Canadian Junior Golf championship this week in what turned out to be a seamless and successful event and the first to be held outside of Wild Rose country.
Birchbank’s staff and member volunteers rallied as over 80 golfers as well as their parents, coaches, and supporters came to Trail from July 1-4 to participate in or watch the event.
“It went really smoothly,” said Golf Canada tournament director Mary Beth McKenna. “We had some great volunteers from Birchbank Golf Course, the course was in great shape, and obviously we had beautiful weather, so we really couldn’t have asked for anything better throughout the week. We are really fortunate to be hosted here in Trail.”
It is the first time the Western Canadian event has teed off outside of Alberta, and while there were initial grumblings from road-weary Albertans about the location, once golfers began play, they were all suitably impressed with the course, its staff, and organizing committee’s efforts to host the tournament.
“It was the first CN Western event to be held in the interior,” said McKenna. “Traditionally it’s in Alberta, but we moved out here to the interior of B.C. and I think the players were really happy kind of to meet half way between Calgary and Vancouver. I mean it lent to a fantastic venue and a great course and great facility so we’re really lucky . . . we heard nothing but great comments all week from all the families.”
Roughly half the field hailed from Alberta, and the other half from the Lower Mainland or Okanagan so the logistics were almost perfect as far as travel was concerned.
Tournament chair Rob McKay was presented with a commemorative plaque for his efforts in preparing and organizing the event, and acknowledged the work of the many volunteers who took time to help out.
“We had over 70 members step up and volunteer, and in fact I had to turn people away so for every volunteer a big thank you because it made my job really easy,” said McKay.
The tournament also recognized Club Pro Dennis Bradley for his contribution, and the Canadian Golf Superintendents’ Association awarded course superintendent Greg Kennedy a National Tournament plaque and a well-deserved nod for his almost 40 years of work as greenskeeper and course superintendent.
“He’s been a rock star,” said Bradley. “He puts in long hours and makes sure everything is done right.”
In addition to the CN Western Junior championship, Birchbank hosted the B.C. Amateur Junior Boys Golf championship tournament two years ago, and would like nothing more to host similar events in the future.
“I’d love to host the Canadian Junior boys, that would be wonderful,” said McKay. “I think Golf Canada is pretty happy with what we’ve done. We had so many compliments for Greg (Kennedy) and the condition (of the course), he just did a huge job.”
The success of the tournament not only reflects well on Birchbank as a course, but it is also economically beneficial to the surrounding communities and bodes well for future events, says Bradley.
“It’s always a stepping stone, to host one of these future Links events and then see how we do, and move on from there to host bigger championships,” added McKenna.