The Camrose Golf Course men’s night golfers teed off the launch of the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus golfing program by donating $1,000 to go towards start-up costs and to support the athletes on the team.
The Vikings scored a hole in one when athletic director Greg Ryan named local golf pro Bill Penny as the coach of the golfing team. He will be assisted by Connor Chafe, who works at the Coal Creek Golf Club. “Connor is a very good player and he will be a big help,” Bill said. Connor graduated from Augustana this year.
“I’m very excited about the program. I’ve been involved in university and college athletics before with Grant MacEwan,” said coach Bill, who worked at Northern Bear Club before making the move to the Rose City. “This is a natural fit for Camrose and the University of Alberta. To see these young golfers develop and grow is tremendous. The golfers move up from the junior program and now we have another reason for these young people to stay in the community.”
Bill said that the ACAC (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference) events are very competitive and he will have a lot of work ahead of him to get a strong team formed this fall. “I would like to have about eight men and close to the same for the women’s team. My main focus will be to recruit enough women golfers to form a team for tournaments,” added Bill. “All of the golf courses are short on junior girls, so that will be our challenge. You need at least four women to form a team at the university level.”
Bill will be fielding the best possible team he can right away. “I’m going with the best golfers, regardless of what year they are at Augustana. If a fourth year student can help us, then we will take them for a year. It is important to have players at various stages to help the younger ones as well,” explained Bill. “We will be looking at youth, but it is good to have some experienced players.”
Even though Camrose has a top notch course, the coaches want to move them around to experience other courses around Alberta. “The big thing is to get them golfing and be competitive.”
The Vikings will be building a team from scratch. “We know and understand that it will take time to be competitive. It is a process and this fall will be the start. We will ask all those who want to try out to come and golf with us. We will have a qualifying period,” said Bill. “Recruiting is part of my responsibilities, so I will be looking for golfers to try out. I will be focusing on the rural areas and on golfers looking for a post-secondary education.”
Bill currently teaches a junior program in Viking with 23 participants and 26 golfers in Sedgewick as well as Camrose. “In Viking and Sedgewick combined we have 10 girls, so we may have some college-level golfers in the future. The local golfers are excited. I talked with the city and they are behind us 100 per cent. This exposes a lot of people to the Camrose Golf Course and this is a good place to learn. I would like to host the finals here. I can see us putting in a bid to host two or three years from now when we are established.”
Athletic director Greg said the number of roster spots is still under consideration. “You can have up to five women and five men at each tournament. We may have more golfers than that, and it will be up to Bill who goes each weekend,” explained Greg. ” In the ACAC, golfers don’t receive Jimmie Condon Athletic Scholarships. So the money we received today will be set aside to go for some scholarships.”
Greg said the university is starting the golf program for three reasons. “One, we want people in the area to have the opportunity to play golf. Secondly, it gives golfers in the junior program something to shoot for and, thirdly, it grows the student population at Augustana. Both golf and soccer (new for 2014) will attract more students and are relatively less expensive sports to run.”
The university golfing season features an Open North Regional Tournament on Sept. 14 and 15 that will be hosted by Red Deer College at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club.
An Open South Regional Tournament will be held on Sept. 21 and 22 hosted by Lethbridge College at the Paradise Canyon Golf Course.
The ACAC championships are slated for Sept. 28 and 29 at the Olds Golf Club. The CCAA (Canadian College Athletic Association) Golf Championships will be hosted by Cegep Champlain St. Lawrence in Quebec on Oct. 15 to 18.