Players love challenge of Highland Golf Series
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | August 11, 2015|
Inspired by a recent trip to the Canadian Open, local golfer Randall Barry is ready to compete at this summer’s Highland Golf Series at Blairhampton.
“Those players are there because they work hard on their game,” Barry said, referring to the golfers who participated in the Canadian Open at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville.
“It was amazing … at one point, K.T. Kim’s ball landed right in front of me, and I was sitting next to the green. I looked at Kim and said ‘you’re in a tough spot’ to which he just nodded.”
What ensued was a moment Barry won’t soon forget. After some discussion with his cabbie, Kim, currently ranked No. 41 in the Official World Golf Ranking, finally selected a club and attempt to finish the hole.
“He made an incredible putt that went straight, and then rolled down a slope into the hole. He just looked at me after and nodded once more,” Barry smiled.
It’s those types of problem-solving strokes that attract people like Barry to the game of golf, and to tournaments like the Highland Golf Series.
“Lucky’s tournament is the crème de la crème of golf tournaments around here,” he said, referring to Jamie Luck, the tournament’s long-time organizer.
Barry pointed out that multiple charity golf tournaments in the county take place every year, but this is the only one that is dedicated to high-level competition.
“It’s a hard tournament to win,” he said.
Entering its fourth year, the Highland Golf Series is a two-player team scramble format tournament that began at the Pinestone Open in July and continues this weekend at Blairhampton.
The top players from both opens will then qualify for a final Ryder Cup-style showdown in the fall, where qualifying players are selected in a draft.
In previous years, the tournament was held at Blairhampton only, but its growth has forced it to expand to other courses.
Luck is not surprised by that.
“This tournament is really geared to the working class, that’s why it’s held on a Sunday,” Luck said. “I want the average guy to make it out.”
With some help from his business partner, Joel Cooper, who makes up the second half of their business, called BarnBurner Events, Luck said he hopes to introduce golf and hockey workshops for youth.
“It’s a long-term goal,” he said, adding some of the proceeds from the 50/50 draw will go towards minor hockey.
BarnBurner Events specializes in the organizing, planning, and delivery of events, according to its Facebook page.
It’s a worthwhile goal to pursue, says Chase Thurston, a professional golfer who has played in professional tournaments across America.
“When I was younger, there (were) only a handful of us that played in tournaments,” he said. “Now it’s really opened up, but there still isn’t a place outside of high school for kids to sink their teeth into golf.”
If golf courses are interested in hosting a group of young golfers, Barry said he would volunteer to introduce them to the game.
“You could work on a bit of putting and hit the driving range … walk the length of the course and walk them through the game,” he said.
While living in Florida as a teenager, Thurston played at the Core Golf Academy where his raw golf talent was sharpened, and life lessons were learned.
“It’s another level to be able to work yourself into a stupor every day, and it gives you a kick in the pants because you might think you’re working hard, but then you see the guys making the big bucks and realize those guys are somehow working 10 times harder,” he said.
“And that translates into life in general and how hard you work every day.”
Thurston is looking forward to entering more professional tournaments now that a nasty shoulder injury is healed.
But until then, the Highland Golf Series will easily fill that gap.
“It’s a great tournament that is competitive but also fun,” he said.
Luck stressed how men, women, young and old, come out to play.
“We’ve had senior teams win in years prior ... the competition always seems to be pretty fair.”
Blairhampton pro shop manager, Gord Barter says the tournament has been at full capacity every year and its popularity is growing.
“It’s fabulously organized and everyone who shows up to play is always having fun and always well behaved,” Barter said.
The Blairhampton Open starts at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.