A Rossland golfer didn’t let a little thing like a tropical storm dampen his chances of winning the Canadian Golf Town National Amateur championship at the Doral Golf Resort in Miami, Fla. last month.
Teeing off in monsoon-like conditions, Ben Gresley-Jones came from five shots back in the final round to win the championship at Doral’s Blue Monster course. The tournament, the finale of Canada’s Golf Town National Amateur series, ran from Oct. 23-27 and suffered the early wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
“It was considered a tropical storm at that point, but it was turning into a hurricane,” said Gresley-Jones.
The event was intended to be a four-day event, however weather blew out one day and the other three days were played under rain-drenched skies and strong winds.
Gresley-Jones won the championship flight, but was not happy with his play and the tempestuous weather.
For a scratch-golfer, the 29-year-old blanches at his three-round 246, shooting rounds of 80, 84, and 82, compared to his rounds of 72 and 76 at the Western Canada qualifier at the Silvertip Resort in Canmore, Alta.
“It was really, really difficult. I’ve played in wind before but nothing that severe. It was like three or four clubs every shot. You had to take wind into account on putts, which is something I’d never seen before, you’d hit a ball and the wind would blow it like a foot and a half or two feet off line. The scores really reflect that.”
During one round, the standing-water was so bad, golfers were allowed to pick-clean-and-drop within one club length – on the green.
Still everyone was in the same sinking boat, and Gresley-Jones managed to overcome the elements, a five-stroke deficit, and still win by 3-strokes over Robert Berger of Oakville, Ont. And Chad Minclak of Ponoka, Alta.
“It wasn’t about shooting a low score, it was basically about surviving and maintaining. Everyone was struggling so the guy that was able to struggle least was successful.”
Due to work commitments, Gresley-Jones played little golf all summer, but managed to qualify for the national event in Florida by winning the Western Canada Golf Town championship tournament in Canmore in September.
“I only did one event, I was kind of taking the year off this summer and it just happened their was an event in Canmore when I was coming through for work for my next shift,” said Gresley-Jones who works for Universal Aviation in northern Alberta.
“It was a two-day tournament on a course I hadn’t played yet . . . I ended up taking the chance to go there and winning it and that’s what qualified me for this national event.”
With the win at Doral, Gresley-Jones also receives an exemption to next year’s Canadian Amateur in Victoria, and plans to hit the links a lot more in 2013 to prepare. He also has the B.C. Amateur at Christina Lake inked in to prepare for the national championship.
While it was unfortunate the weather didn’t cooperate, Gresley-Jones says he can cross one more course of his bucket list, as the beautiful TPC Blue Mountain Golf course at Doral won’t be the same once new owner Donald Trump is done redesigning it this year.