Jeffrey's Rivershore intro goes quite well

Lynden Jeffrey spends much of his life on the golf courses around 100 Mile House.

When he isn't working at Marmot Ridge, he's playing there, or at the 108 Golf Resort in nearby 108 Mile Ranch. It appears to be working.

Jeffrey, 16, won the boys side of the Kamloops City Junior Golf Championships at Rivershore Golf Links on Sunday, shooting 74-76 over 36 holes. Madison Kapchinsky of Kelowna took the girls championship, bouncing back from a Saturday 81 with a Sunday 73.

Jeffrey hadn't seen Rivershore before he came to Kamloops, and really just wanted to play well.

"My putting was good at the start of the year - last week, it was horrible, but it was on again this weekend," he said. "My driver got me into trouble quite a few times, but I recovered on my second shots."

He was smooth, shooting 36 on the back nine in each round. It was especially important Sunday, when Jeffrey gave back a few strokes before making the turn.

"Hole 9, I made triple, and that kind of shortened my lead," he said. "But I figured I had a lot of time to come back, and I came back on the back nine."

Lionel Taylor of Kelowna was second at 154, with Branden Jewsbury of Westbank third in 159. Jeff Swarts was the top Kamloops golfer, at 165, a stroke ahead of fifth-place Adam Struch of Kamloops.

Despite the weather last week - which had organizers and golfers alike wondering how many new water hazards they'd have to dodge - the tournament went off without a hitch. Unfortunately for Jack Croucher, the man behind the tournament and a champion of junior golf locally, only 21 golfers came out - four girls, 15 boys and two junior-juniors, who only played nine tournament holes.

"It's way down - that's the general trend in junior golf," Croucher said. "For example, 10 years ago, there would be 400 boys trying to get into the B.C. junior golf championship. This year, they may not fill their field of 156.

"Golf is not a hip thing nowadays. . . . In the last five years, it's been a steady decline."

Each of the Kamloops courses used to have thriving junior programs, but the players just stopped coming out.

The sad reality is that a lot of teens would rather do other sports than golf. Croucher mentioned that soccer is so well-run in town - with kids of all levels and ages able to play and have fun in a cheap environment - that youngsters will stick with the sport.

"There's so much for them to do . . . ," Croucher said. "There was a soccer tournament this weekend, baseball tryouts, a couple of kids went to a goalie hockey camp, and a couple were studying for exams . . .

"Three years ago, I think we had 50 kids, and we're at half of that."

The future of this tournament, now five years old, is up in the air. Croucher mentioned that it could become a part of the local junior zone tour, which includes tournaments around the area leading up to the provincial junior championship.

Even if that happens, Croucher got what he wanted out of the tournament when watching the four female competitors play Saturday and Sunday.

It was a group of veterans - Kapchinsky, a four-time champion, Jessica Claggett of Kelowna, a three handicap, and Summerland's Rachelle Nielsen, a seven handicap - along with 12-year-old Georgia Miller, a local up-and-comer.

Miller, a 33 handicap, had a grand old time, going 111-106 to finish well back of her three playing partners. But Kapchinsky, Claggett and Nielsen were quick to help out the youngster.

"That was the whole concept of this tournament," Croucher said, noting that when the tournament started, there were small groups of golfers at each local course. "The idea was to bring them all together in a city championship, with the idea then being that the up-and-comers get to play with the better players.

"I thought that nothing does more to get the juices going than that competition. With the four girls here, being so good with each other, it's huge for Georgia."

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca

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