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Road to PGA TOUR starts at Point Grey

Posted on 1st May, 2014 / Source: Brad Ziemer, Guest Contributor

Brad Ziemer"Get a Grip" Article by Guest Contributor Brad Ziemer, as featured in the May 2014 edition of the GolfBC eNews. Brad Ziemer covers the B.C. golf scene for the Vancouver Sun. He received Golf Canada’s Distinguished Service Award in 2013 and was also named the PGA of British Columbia’s Patron of the Year in 2013...

The road to the PGA TOUR has become a much more circuitous journey than it once was. There are no longer any shortcuts. Gone are the days when a player could catch lightning in a bottle at Qualifying School and earn a ticket straight to golf’s promised land.

PC Financial OpenThese days, you don’t get to the PGA TOUR without first proving your worth on the TOUR . And that brings us to PGA TOUR Canada, which begins its second season later this month (May 29-June 1) at the $150,000 PC Financial Open at Point Grey Golf & Country Club in Vancouver.

PGA TOUR Canada is succeeding where its struggling predecessor - the former Canadian Tour - could not, largely because of one significant carrot it offers players. Actually, five of them. The top five players on the PGA TOUR Canada money list at season’s end earn a promotion to the TOUR and a chance to then play their way onto the PGA TOUR. In the inaugural PGA TOUR Canada season last year, two of those five spots went to Canadians: MacKenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., won the Order of Merit, while former B.C. Junior champion Riley Wheeldon of Comox finished second.

That chance to earn one of those five promotions has created huge interest in PGA TOUR Canada among young professionals. PGA TOUR Canada filled three Q schools this spring - one in California, another in Florida and a third at Crown Isle in Courtenay - and had long waiting lists at each site.
Canada has become the place where young pros come to chase their dreams.

Vancouver is part of an expanded second season for PGA TOUR Canada, which has 12 events on its coast-to-coast schedule this year. That is up from nine events in 2013. The Canadian Tour last played in the Metro Vancouver area in 2009 when the City of Surrey Invitational was held at Hazelmere Golf Club.

The cachet of the PGA TOUR brand helped bring about a Vancouver event. PC Financial, already the presenting sponsor of two PGA TOUR Canada events in Eastern Canada, stepped up this year as title sponsor of the Vancouver tourney and Point Grey offered to host the event. GolfBC has also jumped aboard as a sponsor of the tournament, something that turned out to be great news for Kevin Maxwell.

Kevin MaxwellMaxwell, head professional at Olympic View Golf Club in Victoria, has received a sponsor’s exemption into the event and that has rekindled a special memory of his teenage years. “I actually Monday qualified for a Canadian Tour event when it was held at Crown Isle in 1999,” Maxwell says. “I think I was 16. I missed the cut but it was a great experience.” Maxwell is older and wiser now, but also knows he must shake some rust off his short game if he is to contend at Point Grey. His life these days is a busy one with his job at Olympic View, his work as a volunteer firefighter in Langford and the fact that he and his wife Adina have two small children. There hasn’t been much time to play a lot of competitive golf, although Maxwell has a good body of work to fall back on. He won during his collegiate career at the University of New Orleans and is a past B.C. Assistants champion. Last fall, he tied for 12th at the CPGA Club Pro Championship in Florida. “I am just trying to re-introduce my hands to my brain and hopefully be able to create more feel than I have had in the past few years,” Maxwell says. “The short game is the first thing that you forego when you are not practising a lot. “I am going to be awfully excited, but I am hoping to not feel nervous. It’s my goal to have enough confidence to go over, compete well and finishing inside the top 10 will be my goal.”

Maxwell is just one good story heading into what should be a terrific event. There figures to be about 150 others when for one week Point Grey is turned into a field of dreams.

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