A team representing Surrey’s Birdies & Buckets Family Golf Centre won the Jack McLaughlin Memorial PGA of BC Pro-Junior Championship on Friday, July 22.
Played at Shuswap Lake Golf Course in Blind Bay, the tournament sees teams of one PGA of BC professional and three juniors in an 18-hole, two-net “best ball” format.
The Birdies & Buckets foursome, which included head teaching pro Jeff Hallborg and juniors Gavin Giesbrecht, Nathan Freer and Levi Hallborg, beat 12 other teams with a score of 14-under par.
After a slow start of 5-under par through their first 10 holes in the shotgun start, Birdies & Buckets found their stride on the Par 5 18th hole, where they recorded two net eagles that got their momentum going. “It was the start of a dramatic finish, playing their final eight holes at 9-under par,” notes a news release posted to pgabc.org.
The juniors from Birdies & Buckets all had prior individual tournament experience, but had never played in a team format before.
The win was special for pro Jeff Hallborg, who got to share the experience with his 12-year-old son, Levi.
“We ham-and-egged it perfectly,” the coach explained. “It never felt like we had a bad hole at the same time. [We] played their stroke holes very well. We had a couple of chip-ins on a stoke hole which helped. They just teamed up well together, and they’re also good buddies, which helped. They don’t really put much pressure on each other and had a couple of good laughs – that’s what it’s all about.”
The tourney’s team-scoring structure welcomes competitors of all ages and abilities, regardless of past playing experiences, with tee allocations and golf course setup being determined by a mix of the player’s gender, age and handicap.
For their win, the three Birdies & Buckets juniors each received a COBRA LTDx Driver, valued at $650 each. The tournament is presented by COBRA PUMA Golf.
The tournament is held in memory of Jack McLaughlin, a former PGA of BC president and long-time head professional at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club.
Hallborg’s career path has direct ties to the McLaughlin family. “My first employment job in the industry was underneath (Jack McLaughlin’s son) Jim McLaughlin at Westwood Plateau Golf & Country Club,” he stated, “so it’s kind of cool to have a trophy with that last name on it.”
Last played in 2019 at Highland Pacific Golf in Victoria, the tourney returned after a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.