Surrey’s Best Amateur Golfers Duke It Out at Northview Golf and Country Club
Before Canadian golfing greats such as Mike Weir, and Vancouver Golf Tour (VGT) alumni, Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin began tearing up the links on the MacKenzie Tour (PGA Tour Canada), WEB.com Tour, and PGA Tour, they had to prove themselves as amateurs first.
This past weekend at the breathtakingly-scenic Northview Golf and Country Club off 168th St. in Surrey, B.C., nine Surrey-affiliated amateur golfers took to the tees in the 2Under VGT Spring Championship amateur-only tournament that was offering double-the-usual Order of Merit points. For amateurs, Order of Merit points determine the winner of each of three flights (Championship, Flight A, Flight B). Each flight winner receives free airfare plus two weekly grounds badges to a 2017-18 PGA Tour event of their choice–majors not included.
Coming into this weekend’s rounds, top amateurs Michael Wawryk and last year’s Championship Flight winner, Jeff Sheldon were some of the favorites to take home the title. Standing in their way, however, were fellow Champions Flight contenders, and, more importantly, Surrey-affiliated golfers, Bryan Bessant, Stewart Boldt (Surrey Golf Club), Tanvir Kahlon, and Warren Fong (Morgan Creek Golf Club). In Flight A, Surrey was represented by Adam Bodecker, Marvin Emerman, and Brad Heath, while Jason Angus and Bryce Kilpatrick put Surrey on the leaderboard in Flight B.
Over the course of the two-day event, I tracked the rounds of Boldt and Kahlon as they made their way around Northview’s Canal and Ridge courses to see some of Surrey’s golfing talent at work.
During Saturday’s opening round, I followed Boldt around the Canal course–he was in a group with Jacob Lucki and Fong. It was clear from the moment I was introduced to Boldt by VGT Commissioner, Fraser Mulholland, that the Surrey Golf Course man was one of the more outgoing and colorfully dressed members of the tour. He was (and usually is) easy to spot as he was dressed in pumpkin colored pants and a sky blue t-shirt. Boldt, a current Langley resident, can be found chatting up and joking with members of the VGT staff when he’s not in the middle of a round but will do the same with fellow golfers while they’re on the links.
Boldt, a current Langley resident, can often be found chatting with members of the VGT staff when he’s not in the middle of a round but will do the same with fellow golfers while they’re on the links. “If you give and show respect to others you get it in return, ” Boldt told me. There is no doubt that he earns plenty of it each time he takes to the course.
At age 51, Boldt has spent years honing his craft. When he was 33, he began taking his golf game more seriously, citing Tiger Woods as his source of inspiration. Over the last decade he has been able to slice his handicap from 13 to 3 due to his attention to detail (sometimes spending hours meticulously mapping out a course’s greens and discovering which golf ball suits his game the best), levelheadedness (never letting his emotions after a poor shot get to his head), and hard work (spending two days of the week on a golf course despite working 60-70 hours a week as a cabinetmaker). He had even told Mulholland before his round on Saturday, “I’ve been working so hard, I passed out on the couch in front of the TV with a slice of pizza in my hand.”
Through the first seven hole, fatigue didn’t appear to play a huge factor in his score although he would cite it as a piece of why he didn’t perform up to par. Boldt was looking like he would finish his front nine holes about half way to his handicap (2-over) collecting three bogeys and a nice birdie on seven, but when the par-5 8th came around, he would quadruple-bogey hitting his ball into water that covered nearly 500 yards on the left side of the hole.
As I was walking behind the threesome, taking notes of our conversations after their tee shots on 8, I missed the two shots of Boldt’s that landed into the hazard but noticed that his demeanor hadn’t changed from tee box to the pin, so I had assumed all had gone well. When he informed me that he scored an eight on the 8th hole, my eyebrows raised in shock. His round had just taken a horrible turn, but he was still as upbeat as he had been before the poor hole. Naturally, I asked him how he could stay so composed. The answer was simple but wise. “If I get all angry, it’d be hard to calm down.” Boldt said, “We’re amateurs, I’ve got work on Monday.”
It is clear that there was more on his mind than the pressure of having a good score through 18 holes: the devotion to his cabinet business being one and providing for his wife of 11 years being another. In between the first and second rounds of the tournament, Boldt had signed on a new client and spent time working to flip a house he bought to make some extra cash for him and his wife.
By the end of his 1st round–he shot an 82 (a few shots over his handicap)–he said his swing didn’t show the proper technique, specifically on his triple-bogey on the par-5 8th and the quadruple-bogey on the par-3 17th. “I wasn’t turning my hips through the shots, so I was getting that arm swing that I needed.” He also admitted he had felt nervous on certain holes, “I have to eliminate the mistakes I made; on certain holes I was nervous. Nerves played a part on me. My belly tightened up, my shoulders tightened.” Before heading out, he told me that he was going to get back to business but also try and get some more rest in preparation for Sunday’s round.
Boldt left Northview Golf and Country Club that day with the round already in his rearview mirror, ready to tackle whatever lay ahead of him and having earned the respect of at least one more person he met.
By midday Sunday, there slightly more tension in the air, especially in the later rounds of the afternoon. There were 3000 Order of Merit points up for grabs and Fong and Kahlon were in decent position to grab all of them away from Saturday’s leader, Craig Titterington, who completed his first round with the only score under 70, a 4-under 68. 19-year-old Tanvir Kahlon from Surrey by way of New Dehli earned a spot in the 2nd-to-last group of the final day right behind Titterington. He is one of the youngest golfers on the tour and had been improving in each of the
He is one of the youngest golfers on tour and had been improving in each of the five rounds he had played coming into Sunday. His Saturday tally of 75 tied his best of his short-season since returning home from a disappointing showing during his freshman year at New Mexico State. “We were ranked 49th out of 330 Division I schools, and then things fell apart. We were hoping to do well in the NCAA Golf Championships, but we didn’t.” When I asked him if that motivated him to take part in his first VGT, he said, “Yes. Definitely.”
Kahlon is extraordinarily focused and composed for a 19-year-old. On both days he played with some of the Championship Flight’s top names (Jeff Sheldon and Michael Wawryk) but never felt taken aback when doing so. For him, with his father by his side as his caddy, the only focus was to go out and play the best he can without worrying about anyone else’s game.
Kahlon played his final 18 holes at a thoughtful pace, often taking extra time at the tee box. He and his father were communicating telepathically as his dad would come up to him, hand him another club, and step to the side, all without mentioning a word. “My father gave me my first club and taught me how to grip the club.” Kahlon said, “He knows my game almost as good as I do.” He went on to tell me, “He’s a coach actually, and he’s a rules official too, so he’s really qualified. But, he’s my dad, he knows what I’m doing, and he loves me, so it’s easier to communicate with him over anybody else.
His father knows what club choice his son has to make, especially now that things are different while he is working on a swing change with his coach, Brett Saunders. “As you could see today, I was using a 2-iron off the tee instead of a driver. I could have hit the ball a lot farther, but I’m changing my swing. Once that gets fixed, I should shoot a 68 or a 66 on a regular basis.”His father had similar expectations regarding shooting a low score. Before Kahlon’s round, I had suggested that his son was primed for a top-5 finish. His father chuckled and said, “Why not the top spot.”
Kahlon was nearly flawless with his putter throughout the round. He only had one three-putt and managed to birdie each of the four par 5s. “I spend 3-4 hours a day working on my putting. I would say it’s the strongest club in my bag” Kahlon said following his round of 68. He was one of three golfers all weekend to shoot under 70. Unfortunately for him, he was in a group with Mike Aizawa from Richmond Country Club who had the best round of the weekend, shooting a 63 overall on Sunday and a phenomenal 7-under (29) on his final nine holes including an eagle on the par-5 7th hole. Kahlon’s score earned him a 3rd place finish, his best of the season so far.
Overall, the nine Surrey-affiliated golfers made the city proud. In the Championship Flight, Kahlon finished with the lowest score of the weekend at 1-under for 3rd place followed by Wong who finished in 13th at 15-over. Bryan Bessant finished in a tie for 17th at 18-over at his home course with Boldt eight strokes behind him at 26-over. In Flight A, the other Northview member, Brad Heath, finished tied for 6th place with a score of 15-over while Peace Portal Golf Club’s own Marvin Emerman finished tied at 19-over with Surrey’s Adam Bodecker. Finally, in Flight B, Bryce Kilpatrick, the 3rd Northview member, finished in 9th with a score 36-over with Jason Angus of Surrey Golf Club ending up in 17th at 48-over.
This weekend is the VGT’s 3rd major of the season and is open to both professionals and amateurs. As of today, only Aram Choi of Surrey is registered for the major tournament. She is one of only four women in the field. She will try her best to make Surrey proud as she goes up against the boys, but the support of Surrey residents would surely help her. If you can’t make it to Nicklaus North Golf Course in Whistler this weekend, check out the VGT’s schedule here to see if you can come out and cheer on any of the Surrey golfers that will be on the links all summer. One of the tour’s biggest events is back at Northview Golf Club from September 22nd-24th. That will be a local tournament that you won’t want to miss.