The Kootenay Pro Tour is underway, with their next two events taking place at Shadow Mountain on June 6 and St. Eugene on June 27.
The tour kicked off for the season with its first event in Creston on April 18, followed by rounds at Riverside at Fairmont Hot Springs on April 25 and at Copper Point on May 16.
Matt Gillett, PGA of Canada member and Assistant Professional at Fairmont Resort, told the Bulletin a little bit about how the tour works.
According to Gillett, club pros from any of the courses around the region, from the East Kootenay to the West and even Northern B.C., are welcome to sign up for these events. There are seven one-day, one-round competitive tournaments in the season, with a two-day tour championship at the end, this year to be held at Kimberley’s Purcell Golf and Cranbrook’s Wildstone on September 13 and 14.
The events usually get about 20 pros at them, each putting $100 into the pot creating typically a $2000 purse, with the top six competitors being payed out. Each golf course host the tournament, donating the round of golf for the day.
The tour tries to mix up the locations for the tournaments, making it fair for everyone who has to travel, so there are events in Golden and Creston, for example.
“It’s competitive, we do obviously play for the purse, but also it’s kind of a networking thing too,” Gillett explained. “We can get together with some of our industry people and chat about the good and the bad that we experience.”
Gillett explained that while there is certainly a level of competition, both on the course and between the golf courses the pros represent, it’s all very good-natured.
“We all work together, we compete as a business, but we work together as well as association members and as industry golf pros so it’s kind of a nice,” he said. “We definitely play competitively but it’s fairly casual. We’re not in pants, we wear shorts, it’s not like the PGA Tour on TV, we’re a little more loosey-goosey.”
Gillett is deeply involved in golf, but he said it hasn’t been this way for too long. He grew up in Ontario and was introduced as a junior to golf, but it didn’t stick until he moved out to the Kootenays for a resort job back in 2011.
“I kind of fell backwards into this gig to be honest,” Gillett said. “It’s funny, if you had told me 10, 11 years ago I’d be doing this I would have laughed, because before I moved out to this area and started to work at golf courses where you get to play for free, that’s when I played a ton of golf.”
Starting in the industry as a breakfast cook, Gillett would finish his shift, go home and change and then head back to the resort to play golf, usually five days a week. He said he didn’t even consider it as a career path until 2018 when he started playing better golf and it started to become a reality that he could enter the PGA of Canada Association.
“I was not a junior golfer, I didn’t play a whole lot, I didn’t have any family members that played, so it’s funny how I got here, but here I am,” he said.