2017 Family Classic, Adult Junior and Jim Connolly Little Swingers Champions Crowned
There was an extra category added to the Family Classic this year and it is near and dear to my (Bari Gourley) heart. When it was decided that the Family Classic would be played at the Riverside Country Club, Don Connolly and myself knew we needed to celebrate the life of past Head Professional and Don’s father, Jim Connolly. Jim was the long-time professional at Riverside and invented the ‘Little Swingers’ junior program for juniors from the age of 5 – 10 years of age. His program is what turned into the Future Links National Program. In Jim’s honour we have created the Jim Connolly’s Little Swingers Championship. We started out with a small group of 4 teams this year, but we see this category becoming huge in the next few years. When the Little Swingers arrived today, Don and myself gave the kids a clinic and a chip-off. From there they played the back nine at Riverside with their fathers in an alternate shot format. A burger and fries greeted the players when they finished their nine, followed by a prize presentation and candy! The inaugural winners of the Jim Connolly Little Swingers Championship was Scott and Connor Weatherhead by shooting an amazing 32!! They were very gracious in receiving the newly minted trophy!
While the Little Swingers were on the back nine, the Family Classic and Adult/ Junior players headed out on the front nine under sunny skies. The Family Classic is a wonderful event that names Champions in four divisions which include Father/Son, Father/Daughter, Mother/Son and Mother/Daughter. This is a great event where parents can play with their kids no matter what age and grandparents can play with their grandchildren. There are not a lot of sports that that can happen. We also had an Adult/Junior Male and Adult/Junior Mixed awarded today which allows kids without golfing parents to get out to play. It was wonderful to see 136 golfers come to Riverside to play some golf and have some fun today!!
With the defending champions unable to play this year, the Father/Son Division was wide open but some past winners were in the field to keep things interesting. We needed a playoff to determine the winners again this year after a couple of 3-under par 69s were fired. Mark and Jayme Shannon started the day off with a bogey and then birdied the ninth hole with 7 pars in between for an even par 36 on the front. They started birdie, birdie on the back nine and added another on the 16th to go for their 6 pars for a smooth 33 on the back nine. The Wilsons started with 4 pars, bogeyed the 5th and followed with back to back birdies and ended with pars for a 1-under 35 on the front. Another 6 pars on the back, a bogey, a birdie and an eagle gave them a 2-under par 34 on the back for their 69. The playoff was a three-hole aggregate scoring system playing holes 1, 17 and 18. The Wilsons jumped out to a 2 shot lead after hole one and doubled their lead after 2 holes. As the sun was going down quickly, the playoff ended with the Wilsons defeating the Shannons.
Finishing in third spot was Felipe Marin Sr. and Jr. who both know this golf course very well as Felipe Jr. is a member now and Felipe Sr. was a member for years. They carded 3 birdies, 2 bogeys and a double to shoot a 1-over par 73. In 4th place we had a 3-way tie with scores of 74 and Luc and Roger LeBlanc winning in retrogression over Darren and Nicholas Ritchie of Hampton who won by retrogression over Jeff and Jake Ward of Gage Golf Club.
Greg and Laura Jones from Country Meadows made it a four-peat on winning the Father/Daughter Division. Laura had been at the Canadian Junior Girls Championships in Ottawa 2 weeks ago and left straight from there to go to Canada Games in Winnipeg and returned home around 2:00 am this morning. This didn’t stop her from playing in this tournament with her Dad! They had a bit of a shaky start with Laura fighting the tiredness and they had 5 bogeys, 3 pars and a spectacular eagle (on hole # 2) for a 3- over par 39 on the front. By the back-nine Laura was in her groove and sinking some putts and had 4 birdies and an eagle with their 4 pars to shoot a fantastic 6-under (30) on the back nine for an amazing 69!! Laura leaves in the next couple of weeks to continue her education and golf scholarship at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. Greg Jones said it best, “Winning a Title is always nice but getting to play golf with my daughter is the most important.” Finishing second in this category was Ed Moore who plays out of Kingswood and his daughter Tracy from the host club. They managed a 4 over par 40 on the front and they also had a better back nine with a 1-over par 37 that included 1 birdie and 8 pars. Country Meadow’s builder and owner, 81 year-old Doug Sullivan and his daughter Sue won in retrogression against club mates Perry and Alexandra LeBlanc who managed matching 81s.
The Mother/Son Division was won by home-course favourites Lois and Greg Stewart. They started off hot with birdies on 1 and 3, but had their lone bogey on the front on the par 5 fourth hole for a 1-under par 35 on the front. Birdies were hard to come by on the back nine for the champs, but they held on for a 5 over par 77. Coming in 3 shots back was Debbie and Steve McLaughlin out of the Moncton Golf Club who had won this division four years in a row before today. Their day included 4 birdies and 9 bogeys for their 80. Lois was pretty sure that home-course knowledge might have given them the advantage.
The Mother/Daughter Division was once again won by the Fredericton duo of Kathy Meagher and Kathryn Meagher. The ladies had a very solid day out on the course by shooting an 85. They out-dueled their friends Barb and Allison Chisholm who were tied with the Meaghers after 14 holes. Kathy and Kathryn thought that they had better get the job done and finished with 5 straight pars in a row for the win! That makes win # 10 in this division for the Meaghers! Way to go Ladies!
The Adult/ Junior Division was won again by The Riverside Country Club’s John Elliot who paired with Liam Marin this year. Each year him and Felipe Marin alternate which Marin boy each will play with. Their 3 bogeys and lone birdie on the front gave them a steady 38 and they added that to 3 birdies, a bogey and a double on the back for an even par 36. This gave them a 2-over par 74 and a 4-shot win over Jerry Wilson and junior clubmate Ethan McFadden of the Moncton Golf & Country Club. Their round consisted of a few more bogeys than they would have hoped, but a 78 gave them the runner-up position.
The Riverside Country Club was a fantastic host for this event, the course was in great shape, the sun was shining and everyone had a great time. Head Professional, Don Connolly was very excited about hosting the event and was happy to see the Jim Connolly Little Swingers Event get off the ground. Not many tournaments can you have a 5 year old and two 80 year olds playing in the same tournament. Thanks to all the players and for the kids putting up with their parents today!