Monday, September 02, 2013


Wildfire-The Conclusion

Following the golf last Wednesday afternoon, I had a chance to chat with James Allenby, a professional golfer from Langley, British Columbia. The owner of the Wildfire Golf Club, and the host of the Wildfire Invitational, Glen Stonehouse, had a few friends over to his place for a barbecue. He also invited a pal from Stoney Lake to supply the entertainment, the fabulous Ronnie Hawkins.


                                                             Ronnie Hawkins                                               
Allenby was preparing to play four rounds of golf over the next four days, but appreciated the hospitality. “This is a first class tournament,” he told me after his final round on Sunday. “One of the factors that makes for a great tournament is the work of the volunteers. They really came out to help here.”


Allenby and the rest of the golfers from the PGA TOUR Canada group have seen a lot of the country this summer. This week they head to Nova Scotia for the second last tournament of the season. Allenby was amazed at the topography of the Wildfire course. Many of the players and the volunteers arrived at the course by boat, as the Wildfire is located on Stoney Lake, north of Norwood, and east of Lakefield. “I loved the rocks on the course. I missed some of the natural aspects of the area during the first two rounds, then realized its nature. It is carved out of the Canadian Shield, and it is impressive.”


                                           Granite Formation on the Canadian Shield
Allenby comes by golf honestly, as his grandfather built a par three course in Langley, British Columbia. In the winter he works at the Langley Golf Centre. He began playing when he was “ten or eleven. But I really got serious about it when I turned thirteen. I enjoyed soccer, snowboarding, and ball hockey as a kid, but golf has always been my game.”


He went to Oregon State, and enjoyed his years there. “There was a great caring atmosphere there. It was very competitive, in the PAC 10 conference, and I liked that aspect of the game. He touched on his current status in the game. “I have been on the tour for five years. You have to have persistence and determination to play this game, as well as the skill. But to do really well, you must putt well. It almost always comes down to putting. Because of the technology, the guys who did not drive well can hit it out there now.”


His best finish was a tie for third in Saskatchewan at the Dakota Dunes. He finished the tournament at The Wildfire with a fine round of 69. He shot 276 for the four rounds, most respectable; however, he was 12 shots off the pace.


Mark Hubbard from Denver, Colorado, won the tournament, 20 strokes under par. Two shots back was the top Canadian, Mackenzie Hughes. Hughes picks up an extra $ 1 500 as the top Canadian, in addition to the prize money he received for finishing second.


At the end of the day, all of the young professionals were scrambling to move on to the tourney in Nova Scotia, the Cape Breton Classic in Sydney. Most were sharing rental cars, and heading to the airport. Others bade farewell to the host families from the area. Many of the same pros will be back in the area next year for the PGATOUR Canada event at Wildfire. The event is slated for three years at Stoney Lake.


Belleville’s Jeff Mills followed his brother Jon in the final round. Jeff is the Head Professional at Wildfire, and played the first two rounds, narrowly missing the cut. I caught up with them on the 12th hole. It was a nightmare hole for Mills, as he was faced with dreadful choices. He elected to play down 13, and cut over to 12 when he had a shot at the green. He ended the day with a respectable 73, but well out of contention.


                                                                      Jon Mills
Jon knows the ways of the golfing game. He has experienced all of the major tours, and is looking to break back into the PGA ranks, likely through the “Q” school, the qualification tournament that leads to the ticket to play. He told me that he was pleased with his game. “I made a few adjustments as the day wore on. I know the course pretty well, and that always helps.”


Well worth the drive north! See you there next year!


James Hurst

September 1, 2013   

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