Sun glistens off the lake, still water framed by mountains in a postcard-worthy backdrop.
Autumn looms, but it’s still short-sleeve weather. These are perfect conditions for what’s been dubbed “a good walk spoiled,” but on these sculpted fairways surrounded by forest and sage brush hills, that notion is quickly dispelled.
Really, was there anywhere else for Canada West to showcase its newest championship sport?
“It’s hard to think of Kelowna and the Okanagan and not think of golf,” says Tom Huisman, UBC Okanagan’s athletics director.
UBCO hosts the inaugural Canada West Golf Championships at its long-time home, the Okanagan Golf Club, today and Sunday.
“It just seemed like a natural fit for us because of the region that we’re in, and we have an incredible partner for our program in the Okanagan Golf Club,” Huisman adds.
Men’s and women’s student-athletes from Alberta, UBC, Calgary, Fraser Valley, Lethbridge, Manitoba and Victoria are joining their hosts in this picturesque setting to write a new chapter in Canada West championship history.
“It’s an honour to be able to host the first one,” Huisman says. “Hopefully we’ll set the bar at a good level for future hosts to follow.”
Competition will unfold over two rounds of 18 on the Bear.
The Jack-Nicklaus-designed layout is a par 72 that challenges golfers with well-placed bunkers, grassy swales, sculpted mounds, and tiered greens.
“The best part about the Bear Course is the last three-hole stretch – you’ll basically win or lose a tournament in the last three holes of the golf course,” says Clay Stothers, head coach of UBCO’s men’s and women’s golf teams.
“It’s going to be fun to watch and be a part of the last three holes, to see where you sit with three holes to go, and then see what happens at the end of it.”
Individual titles will be awarded to the lowest-scoring male and female.
For team championships, the women’s competition will see a team’s three lowest gross scores from each day totalled to determine its score. For men’s teams, the four lowest gross scores from both days will be used.
The Canada West Golf Championships serve as a qualifier for the 2020 Golf Canada Canadian University/College Championships, taking place next May in Quebec.
Schools that are currently Canada West members have dominated the annual tournament since its 2003 inception, accounting for a combined 15 women’s team titles and 11 men’s team titles, along with a host of individual champions.
“The level of play (in Canada West) is very good,” says Stothers.
Golf was officially added to the Canada West varsity lineup at the conference’s 2018 AGM in Kelowna. Huisman found eager partners in Tourism Kelowna and the Okanagan Golf Club that shared his enthusiasm for bringing the conference’s best golfers to the Okanagan.
“Hosting the inaugural championship at our home course allows us to not only build excitement around Canada West golf, but our team here in the Okanagan and in Kelowna,” Huisman says.
Players tee off today at noon and 9 a.m. on Sunday.
The Heat (1-7) are at home again tonight to face the UBC Thunderbirds (4-1-3).
UBCO put together its best two performances of the season last weekend on home turf as they captured the 1-0 victory against UNBC and followed that up with a narrow 1-0 defeat to a Calgary Dinos team that toppled the Heat 5-0 in the first match of the year.
Freshman Catriona McFadden would score the only goal against the T-Wolves as the second-year keeper, Emma Terrillon, recorded her first clean sheet of the season and second of her career.
With six games remaining, the Heat sit nine points back of the final playoff spot held by the Victoria Vikes.
UBCO also hosted UVic (3-2-3) on Friday.
Game time today at Nonis field is 5:30 p.m. Admission is free.
The top four teams from the Pacific Division make the postseason based on winning percentage, and UBCO is at .566, followed by the Thompson Rivers WolfPack at .433, UNBC at .424 and UFV at .394.
No team has been mathematically eliminated from the postseason as of yet, with three weekends remaining.
After a scorching hot start finding the back of the net, it has been a little bit slower in recent games for the Heat as they have found twine just twice in their last four matches.
UBCO has not scored more than one goal in a game since they faced the T-Birds Sept. 1.
The lack of scoring has put increased pressure on Heat keeper Nicholas Reitsma. The Aberdeen Hall graduate has been stepping up to the challenge; he is first in the conference in save percentage (.814) and second in shutouts with five.
UBCO (6-4-2) was at Victoria on Friday to face the Vikes (5-3-1). Today, they play UBC (6-1-2) in Vancouver.
Women’s basketball hosts the MacEwan Griffins today at 3 p.m. at UBCO … Men’s volleyball is at UBC this weekend for the Blue Team Cup exhibition tournament. The Heat were to face Trinity Western Spartans, Mount Royal Cougars, Queen’s Golden Gaels, UBC Thunderbirds and Brandon Bobcats. … Heat softball plays the Lethbridge Pronghorns in a post-season tournament today at 8 p.m. in Calgary.