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Golfers tee off as Balfour hosts its first provincial tournament

The 119th B.C. Women’s Amateur and Mid-Amateur Championship opens today and runs through Thursday

Jerome Goddard knew as soon as he arrived that more people needed to play Balfour Golf Course.

“It's just beautiful. There isn't a single hole where you’re bored of view.”

The 34-year-old course is taking a step up in prestige by hosting its first ever provincial tournament this week. The 119th B.C. Women’s Amateur and Mid-Amateur Championship opens today and runs through Thursday, with 45 players competing for the titles at the 6,400-yard, 18-hole venue.

There's more than silverware to win as well. The top three plus ties will qualify for the national women's amateur championship, which begins next month in Victoria.

Goddard, director of rules and competitions at BC Golf, said the organization is working to expand its tournament schedule to locations outside the Lower Mainland. He praised the work of superintendent Larry Olson for preparing Balfour, which started as a community-owned nine-hole course in 1990 and expanded to 18 holes in 2002.

“As you can imagine. I see a lot of golf courses with different budgets and different teams. And what they’ve been able to do here is remarkable.”

The dual championship, in which all players can contest the amateur title while the mid-am is open to players 25 years of age and older, was first held in 1895 at Victoria Golf Club. Balfour's Jackie Little has won the amateur trophy five times, and the mid-am trophy bears her name. Past notable winners also include Lisa Walters, Anna-Jane Eathorne and Jennifer Wyatt.

Tournament organizer Patrick Little said he hopes the event will lead to Balfour hosting more provincial competitions and eventually a national one.

“Everyone agrees that we can hold a national," said Little. "We have the capacity, we have the course, we have the conditioning of the course, we have the infrastructure here with the City of Nelson.”

The event will be highlighted by defending champion Chelsea Truong of Victoria, who last year rallied from seven strokes down heading into the final round to win the amateur title as a 17 year old. Other players to watch for are former pro Aram Choi of Surrey, and 12-year-old Jenny Guo of West Vancouver.

Kootenay players include Jackie Little, Balfour’s Roma Crispin, Castlegar’s Kim Matson, Shauna Lim of Grand Forks, and Kimberley’s Shannon Bjarnason.

Goddard said Balfour demands players make use of every club in their bag. The course begins with three par-5s in its first four holes and has challenging green complexes -- Goddard predicted lead changes are likely on Holes 17 and 18.

"You’re going to see this course the way it’s meant to be played.”

Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
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