The Kwalikum Secondary School golf team was hoping to repeat as provincial team champions at the 2017 BC School AA Championships last week. They had to settle for an individual title.
The provincials, which featured 16 schools, was held at the Castlegar Golf Club last week. Only the best four scores of each round count toward the team’s score.
The Kondors team, consisting of Jake Lane, Aidan Goodfellow, Max Kolb, Kayli Melissa and Noah Ward, shot a combined score of 641 to finish four strokes behind the eventual winners from Kelowna, George Elliott Secondary.
They ended up finishing in fourth place, which coach Butch Gayton said was still good because they finished not too far behind. But he added it was also a bit disappointing.
This year’s team was less experienced than last year’s group that came home with the provincial championships, which the Kondors had won three times in the last five years.
“It would have been nice to add one more,” said Gayton. “We were right there. It would have been nicer to end it off with the ultimate prize. But five shots off the lead is still a pretty good accomplishment for three inexperienced golfers at the end of our team. It’s a learning experience for them.”
As well, the course, Gayton described, was very difficult to play on.
“It was a tough track and tough to really get into a rhythm to feel and get some confidence to shoot well,” he said.
In the individual competition, Lane, who last year led the Kondors to victory, repeated as the top player at the tournament, placing first for the second year in a row. The grade 12 student had an impressive first round, shooting 2-under-par 70 with a round highlighted by an eagle and three birdies.
The next day, Lane started well but bogeyed a couple of holes to finish with a 2-over par 74. He still tallied an even par total of 144 to record the best low gross score of the tournament.
“Jake is one of those players who has done a lot of things and he can handle it when things go wrong,” said Gayton. “His driver, he thought, was broken to a certain extent and he was having a hard time hitting it on the second day. He had to chip out of the woods seven times and he still shot a 74. So that’s the kind of resilience you need to play well at the big show here. He’s a very accomplished player.”
Goodfellow, who had been playing well this year, struggled on the first day and improved a bit on the second day to end up 11 strokes off the pace, shooting 155. He ended up tied for 11th place.
Gayton felt Goodfellow was unsettled a bit by a coach from Idaho, who was following him around.
“He was a little bit nervous,” said Gayton. “He’s hit the ball as well as he’s ever hit the ball. Off the tee he was absolutley spectacular but coudn’t finish it off. He just kept overshooting the greens”
Gayton said that Lane and Goodfellow were the best 1-2 combination of all the teams that were there.
Melissa and Kolb matched third-best scores for the Kondors, each scoring a two-day total of 171 to tie for 25th place overall. Ward placed 32nd, shooting 177 over two days of play.
Next year is a rebuilding year for the Kondors. Lane, Melissa and Ward will be graduating this year while Kolb, who is an exchange student, will be heading back to Germany.
Goodfellow will be next year’s leader, said Gayton.
“Aidan is going to be back and he’s going to be one of the top players in the province next year, so he’s going to be a good base to build around,” said Gayton.