Ziemer's B.C. Golf Notes: Victoria stop leads Canadian swing of new PGA Tour Americas circuit; du Toit wins Asian Tour Q-school by 10; Several B.C. juniors commit to NCAA Division I schools; Former Rivershore, Tobiano GM Don Brett-Davies passes at age 60

Uplands Golf Course In Victoria, BC - Image Courtesy Uplands GC

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Keith Dagg has been a key organizer of Victoria’s annual pro golf tourney for more than 40 years and he will tell you it hasn’t always been easy to secure enough corporate sponsorship to keep the tournament running.

“I started this in 1981 and we’re still going,” Dagg says with a hint of pride in his voice. The tournament that has been a labour of love for Dagg will kick off the Canadian portion of the new PGA Tour Americas circuit early next summer.

The PGA Tour Americas is the result of a merger between the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and PGA Tour Canada tours. It begins next spring with six events in Central and South America before heading north for nine events in Canada and one in the United States.

The Victoria event will be the lone British Columbia stop. It goes June 20-23 at Uplands Golf Club and Dagg is pleased with that date. The 2023 tournament was held opposite the U.S. Open with its final round on Father’s Day.

“It was a nightmare,” Dagg says. “This year we are a week later and won’t be fighting the U.S. Open.” Dagg has lost count of how many different title sponsors and names the tournament has had over the years. “Oh God, I have more jackets with names on them, 41 years worth of them,” he says.

The tournament has the same title sponsor this year, but with a slightly different name. “We’re changing the name for about the 100th time,” Dagg says with a chuckle. The Royal Beach oceanside development in Colwood that this year’s tourney was named after is now called The Beachlands. So the 2024 tourney is called The Beachlands Victoria Open presented by Times Colonist.

Dagg is excited to be part of the new PGA Tour Americas circuit and hopes it will help inject new life into the event. Purses are rising to $225,000 US from $175,000 Cdn last year and the top 10 players on the 2024 points list will earn exempt Korn Ferry Tour status for 2025. As many as five other players could earn conditional Korn Ferry Tour status by finishing as the top players on the Latin American and North American swings of the new tour.

This year’s schedule includes a new event in New Brunswick. The season-ending Fortinet Cup Championship goes Sept. 5-8 at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley.

RUNAWAY WINNER: Jared du Toit didn’t just win his Asian Tour first-stage qualifier. The Kimberley native lapped the field, winning the 72-hole event at Sobobo Springs Golf Course in San Jacinto, Calif., by a whopping 10 shots. Du Toit finished the event at 16-under par. Fellow British Columbian Jake Lane of Charlie Lake also advanced by tying for 14th spot at one-under par. He and du Toit both earned spots in the Asian Tour’s final stage of qualifying school, which goes Jan. 16-20 in Thailand. In the meantime, du Toit has another Q-school to prepare for. He has advanced to the second stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Q-school and is scheduled to play Nov. 28-Dec. 1 at a site in Valencia, Calif. Vancouver’s Stuart Macdonald will also be in the field in Valencia. Coquitlam’s A.J. Ewart, the other British Columbian who has advanced to second stage, plays that same week at a site in Valdosta, Ga.

FANTASTIC FALL: The University of B.C. men’s team wrapped up a highly successful fall campaign with a win at the Firestorm Fall Invitational at Verrado Golf Club in Buckeye, Ariz. The T-Birds finished the 54-hole event with a team score of one-under 863 and edged Ottawa University of Arizona by three shots. All five UBC players finished inside the top 20. Aidan Schumer led the way with a solo third finish at one-under par. Manu Gandi (seventh) and Dylan MacDonald (T8) also finished inside the top 10 for the Thunderbirds, who won four of their five fall events.

BRETT DAVIES PASSES: Donald Brett-Davies, a former general manager of Rivershore Golf Links and Tobiano in Kamloops, has passed at the age of 60. He died Nov. 7 of an apparent heart attack moments after playing a round of golf with friends in the Vancouver area. Brett-Davies had been the manager of GolfTEC’s North Vancouver location for the past nine years. “Don was such a great guy,” said his friend Brian Butters. “I put a note out to a number of people who knew Don and the responses were amazing. He was such a well-liked guy.”

Butters said Brett-Davies was part of a group that for many years went to Mazatlan each winter to play golf at El Cid Country Club. “They have caddies there and the caddies have a tendency to give people nicknames,” Butters said. “The nickname they gave Don was Señor Resueño, which is ‘the smiling man’ because he just always had a smile on his face. He was just such a happy guy.” Brett-Davies’ other stops in his professional career included stints as head professional at Sechelt Golf Course and general manager of Hirsch Creek Winter Club in Kitimat. He is survived by his wife Leslie, daughter Stephanie and his father, Neil.

BAYLOR BOUND: Port Coquitlam’s Yeji Kwon, the 2022 Canadian Junior Girls Champion, is heading to Baylor University in Texas. Nov. 8 was national letter of intent signing day and Kwon was one of a number of young British Columbians making commitments to join NCAA Division I schools next fall. B.C. Women’s Amateur champion Chelsea Truong of Victoria is heading to the University of New Mexico. Joshua Ince of Surrey is joining Loyola Marymount in California, Matthew Wilson of Nanaimo has committed to Weber State in Utah, Max Osten of Delta is heading to the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore and Vancouver’s Nathan Szpakowicz is joining the University of Hawaii.

NEW RECRUITS: Simon Fraser University coach Matthew Steinbach has added two new recruits who will join the Red Leafs next fall. Richmond’s Cadence Ko, the 2023 Women’s Club Champion at Marine Drive Golf Club, has committed to SFU. Ko is the latest in an impressive list of Marine Drive products who have chosen to play their collegiate golf at SFU that includes Chris and Michael Crisologo, Scott Kerr, Steve Berry and, of course, Doug Roxburgh.
SFU is also adding Max Corcoran of Ottawa to its men’s squad. Corcoran won the 2023 Quebec Junior Boys Championship.

WINNER, WINNER: Surrey’s Lauren Kim is a double-winner of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association’s 2023 player of the year awards. Kim, who won the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship this past summer, was named female player of the year and also took home the junior girls player of the year. Kim, a freshman at the University of Texas, is the first person to win player of the year in two categories since 2008. Cooper Humphreys of Vernon and James Lee of Whistler were the other B.C. winners.

Humphreys who won the 2023 B.C. Amateur Championship by six shots, was selected the male player of the year. Lee, who won both the B.C. and Northern California Golf Association Junior Boys titles and finished second in the Canadian Junior Boys Championship, was selected junior boys player of the year. Other player of the year winners included Lara Tennant of Portland, Ore. (senior women); Tom Brandes of Bellevue, Wash. (senior men); Gretchen Johnson of Portland (women’s mid-amateur) and Zach Foushee of Portland (men’s mid-amateur).

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: British Columbia juniors came close to sweeping all the major categories at the Maple Leaf Junior Tour’s National Championship played at Wigwam Golf Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz. Karrisa Zhao of West Vancouver won the U15 Girls title by seven shots with a 54-hole score of three-over par. White Rock’s Clara Ding won the 15-19 Girls competition by 13 shots with a score of three-over par. Jayden Zhu of Surrey and Vancouver’s Tiger Zhao were co-medalists in the Peewee Boys competition at four-over par. Jaden August of Pitt Meadows shared the Bantam Boys title with Aricin Franklin of Saskatoon at three-under par. Austin Krahn of Christina Lake fired three straight sub-70 rounds to win the Juvenile Boys title by four shots with a score of 10-under par.

CHIP SHOTS: Surrey’s Adam Svensson will defend his title at this week’s RSM Classic in Sea Island, Ga. Svensson won last year’s event by two shots over Sahith Theegala. . .Braden McKay of Gallagher’s Canyon and Eric Mitchell of University Golf Club share medalist honours at a Vancouver Golf Tour event at Tsawwassen Springs.