The team from Nanaimo Golf Club led by Professional Chris Martens captured the Jack McLaughlin Memorial PGA of BC Pro-Junior Championship on Monday, outlasting 31 other teams in two-net best-ball play at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club.
Martens and the three junior members of his team — 16-year-olds Eli Greene and Sasha Farenholtz, and 15-year-old Kirit Lalh — combined for a 22-under-par total of 124 to claim the victory, which marked the first-ever title for Nanaimo Golf Club in the event’s 27-year history.
“It’s fantastic for us,” said Martens. “We’ve been trying to grow our junior program the last few years. We were at the Pro-Junior a couple of years ago at Olympic View and didn’t do as well, obviously, as we did today. But I think this will be a big step forward in growing our program and pushing junior golf on Vancouver Island.”
The Pro-Junior Championship is a unique event in which PGA of BC members team up with three juniors from their facility to compete against other squads from across the province. The net scoring format allows players of all ages and skill levels to contribute to their team’s success, making it an event that’s welcoming to all juniors, whether they’re experienced competitors or first-time tournament players.
The Meadow Gardens Golf Club team of Professional Michael Caan and juniors Emily Li, J.P. Kahlert and Jayden August were the runners-up at 20-under. One of the three host teams in the tournament — Shaughnessy’s Tim Wilson and juniors Victoria Liu, Elaine Liu and Forrest Van Alstine — placed third with a 17-under total.
“Getting it in close and draining those five or six clutch putts that you need,” Lalh said of what was key for him in helping the team to victory. “Driving the ball was a dream today.”
Jack McLaughlin was the longtime Head Professional at Shaughnessy, and the Pro-Junior Championship was named in his honour in 1992 following his untimely passing the year prior. It had been 25 years since this tournament was last held at the prestigious Vancouver club and Nanaimo team members said it was a memorable experience for them to play a course that has hosted the Canadian Open on four occasions.
“Shaughnessy is a really special place,” said Farenholtz. “It’s really well maintained; it’s beautiful.”
Every participating junior earned a piece of a prize table valued at more than $10,000 and a backpack filled with gifts courtesy of PUMA Golf. Professionals split a $4,000 cash purse divided up for each individual birdie and eagle made during their rounds.