From the links a follow-up on local golfer Stephen Watson who was back east competing on the national stage with Team BC.
Raised in Qualicum Beach and a longtime resident of Nanoose Bay, Watson earned his spot on the three-man team by taking top honours in the Master-40s division at the BC Mid-Amateur at Storey Creek Golf Club in Campbell River in June.
In the mix against a strong field of golfers from all over B.C., Watson, 45, finished third overall with a 4-under-par 212 and took home the hardware for winning the Master-40s division.
That finish earned Watson a spot on Team BC — along with Victoria’s Cory Renfrew, 25, who captured the BC Mid-Am Men’s title, and Brent Wilson of Gorge Vale Golf Club who finished one stroke back in second — bound for the Canadian Men’s Mid-Amateur Championships at the 6,878 yard, par 72 Coppinwood Golf Club in Uxbridge, Ontario. Played out Sept. 5-9, the tournament also included the Master Men’s and Interprovincial Team Championships featuring teams from every province. The Mid-Amateur portion of the tournament is for players 25 and older, and the Mid-Masters division is for players 40-plus.
As an accomplished junior golfer back in the day this wasn’t the first time Watson’s represented his province in competition, but it’s been a while, and to that he made the point prior to shipping off for the tournament that, “as an old guy, it feels good.”
A 20 year man with BC Hydro, he attended the University of Nevada Reno on a golf scholarship where he played for the NCAA Div. 1 Wolf Pack back in the 1980s.
“It’s the first time I’ve played in the Canadian Mid-Amateur, and it was a good experience,” said Watson, who, though easy going by nature, definitely plays to win.
“Controlling my emotions and nerves was challenging,” he said when The News caught up with him recently, adding that as a result, “I played a little tight — not the normal free-flowing swing, and a conservative strategy around the golf course.”
The added pressure he said, “was not just playing for myself, but the BC Team.”
Watson fired rounds of 74-76-75 and 71 for an eight over par four round total of 296 to finish eight over par and 22nd overall out of a field of 155 players in the Mid-Am, and earn eight in the Mid-Masters. Team BC finished two shots back of the winners from Ontario for second, and Saskatchewan and Quebec tied for third — 11 shots back.
The home-grown Watson only plays a handful of tournaments per year, and he said being ‘tournament tough’ makes a big difference at this level.
“One of the guys I played with enters 26 tournaments per year,” he pointed out, adding all things considered he thought he “played fairly well on a very difficult golf course.”
The course and facilities, said Stephen, “were fantastic,” pointing out Coppinwood, near Markham, is ranked the 15th best course in Canada.
“Very fast greens and undulated greens, with fescue grass off the fairways. That stuff was often five feet tall; you hit it there you don’t look for it. The course rating was 74 from the tees we played. The cool and windy weather made it all the more challenging.”
Making his tournament debut all the more memorable was the father and son reunion.
“My wife and son stayed home, so my dad (John) suggested he would come out to Ontario and caddie for me. He’s in his 70s and managed to pack the bag all four days. He made it, but there was one steep hill on the 17th hole that nearly got him each day,” said Watson, adding while his dad (and mom Dorothy) still live in the same house he was raised in near QB Memorial Golf Course, “didn’t really caddie for me in my younger days so it was like warping back 30 years (to his days playing competing as a Jr.). A little father-son time on the road. I’ll look forward to that with my son.”
Asked his take on the tournament, John Watson, who is nudging 74, said he “had a great time back there with him … I saw some great golf.
“A long time,” he answered when asked how long its been since he did a road trip with his son. “I’ve never been to one of those tournaments with him before … the BC Team did very well.
He was, he said, “very proud of the boy — always have been. His golf is something else in my mind.”