The University of the Fraser Valley golf teams are among the favourites at the PING CCAA Golf National Championships, which tee off this week at Fox Meadow Golf Course in Stratford, PEI.
The Cascades women’s team, in fact, is the favourite – they ascended to the No. 1 spot in the most recent edition of the CCAA national rankings, coming off a decisive PACWEST conference title. The UFV men’s squad, meanwhile, holds down the No. 2 spot in their national rankings, trailing only the Camosun Chargers, the reigning PACWEST and CCAA champ.
The 54-hole tournament, hosted by Holland College, begins Wednesday and runs through Friday, and will feature 15 men’s teams, 10 women’s teams and several individual entries. Event coverage, including live leaderboards and video, is available at ccaa.ca/sports/golf.
Cascades head coach Chris Bertram is familiar with the Fox Meadow layout – the 2008 CCAA golf nationals were contested there. The Cascades men’s team won the bronze medal that year, and Mitch Lock claimed the individual silver.
— Chris Bertram (@chrisbertram12) October 16, 2016
“It’s a good course for us – it’s pretty open, so teams that hit the ball a long way are going to have an advantage,” analyzed Bertram, who recently earned his fifth PACWEST coach of the year award. “The greens are slopey and tricky, so I think it’s going to come down to who makes the most putts.”
The Cascades women are coming off a tremendous PACWEST campaign which saw Sharon Park, Hannah Dirksen and Jennifer Kell finish first, second and third, respectively, in the individual standings. The No. 1 ranking brings added expectation, but Bertam believes the team is well-equipped to deal with it.
“All season long the women have been ranked fairly highly; this week to get the No. 1 ranking going into nationals can add some pressure,” Bertram noted. “But this group has embraced it and perhaps felt that this is where they should be. That says a lot about the confidence of this particular team.”
On the men’s side, the Cascades’ roster is comprised of fifth-year captain and two-time All-Canadian Connor O’Dell; Halen Davis and Zach Olson, who finished fifth and seventh overall, respectively, in the PACWEST; and Cole Briggs and Nathan Bahnman, who won a four-player, 36-hole playoff last week for the last two roster spots for nationals.
“It’s always difficult to choose five players to take on a roster with so many good players,” Bertram said. “In this particular case, I think they had each earned an opportunity to play for it, so that’s why we set it up this way. It seemed like the fairest way to do it.
“All season long we’ve been looking at the No. 1-ranked team in the country (Camosun), and unquestionably they’re going to be the team to beat at nationals. We’ve been on their heels all season, and we’ve been doing that without playing our best. If we play the way we’re capable of playing this week, we should be right there.”