2022 AJT Wainwright Junior Open
By Dunc Mills:
Sometimes, numbers don’t tell the full story. The last couple of days, we have had two very successful junior golf tournaments in Westlock and Wainwright respectively, but with modestly-sized fields in comparison to recent McLennan Ross Alberta Junior Tour events at say, Stony Plain or the Edmonton Petroleum GCC. What we lacked in total entries the last two days was more than made up for in my opinion by the hard work of the local tournament organizers and the enthusiasm of many young golfers who were perhaps getting their first exposure to junior golf tournament competition.
For example, today in Wainwright, we had only 16 players. But we had several entries today from youngsters in East Central Alberta from towns such as Coronation and Irma and Mannville and Lloydminster, not to mention the host club. Many of these kids would have had to travel substantial distances to get to a Tour event if we had been unable to host a tournament in Wainwright. Head Pro Josh Copeland put on a great show for these players – complimentary PowerAde and water throughout the course, plenty of on-course and first tee snacks. Every competitor got a sleeve of top line balls at registration. These players got the Rolls Royce treatment!
One other opportunity that avails itself in a more intimate setting like today is that we often have more time for on-course teaching moments for detailed explanations of rulings, or some coaching for things like proper etiquette, which is just as important and maybe more so that just pounding a golf ball down the fairway. These youngsters are eager to soak up that knowledge, and I think that some of the parents appreciated the insight into some of the rules and proper procedures as well.
On to the golf! Cooper Joy of Wainwright, 17, was the only player able to break 80 today and his 3-over par 75 was good for an 8-shot margin over Russell Quinn of the Glendale GCC and Caden Hudson of Apple Creek GC in Airdrie. Yes, I said Airdrie. Hudson left home at 5 a.m. to make his 10 a.m. tee time and easily won the Long Distance Traveller Award today. Joy looked like he was headed for a round at or close to even par, but in his words, made “…a couple of stupid bogies” over his last few holes. His 75 was a fine round nonetheless.
Age group winners today included Coleman Yurchak (89) of Wainwright in the Boys U13, Ryder Holte of Hughenden (99) in the Boys U15 division, Quinn in the Boys U17s, and Joy capturing the overall low gross award as well as best in the Boys U19 age group. Emma Liu of the Windermere GCC made the two-hour trip east from the city today to enjoy her round, but was the only girl in the competition. She had a nice round of 85 just the same and incidentally beat all the U13 boys who played from the same set of tees!
In closing, I want to comment on two eager youngsters today who formed up a rare Boys U10 flight. Rylan Hryhirchuk of Irma, 7, and 8-year-old Blaise Sieben of Wainwright were the first two kids off the tee this morning, playing from a very friendly yardage on the Family Tees. One of the dads was chaperoning these two kids to keep them pointed in the right direction, but wow, they were GONE! These two boys played the front nine in about 90 minutes, decided to call it a day, and headed for some chicken fingers and fries! I don’t think any other competitors today had as much fun as these two. Good on them! Ryan shot a 46 and Blaise was right on his heels with a 48.
The Tour winds up its regular season next week with events in Camrose on Monday, August 22nd and in Carstairs on Tuesday, August 23rd. The Tour Championship is coming up at Wolf Creek Golf Resort on Monday, August 29th to close out the 2022 schedule.