Driving for gold

Nicholas Mercer
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Boys' host golf team is ready to take on province

Members of the host male golf team include, from left, Nick Hamilton, Logan Anderson, Mitchell Bailey and Zack Bennett.

Mitchell Bailey has just put his approach shot for the sixth green at Pitcher's Pond Golf Course in Whiteway three feet from the hole.

Bailey's ball took a generous bounce towards the hole and he finished the round by tapping the ball in the hole.

The rest of his teammates for the 2012 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games - Logan Anderson, Nick Hamilton and Zack Bennett - follow suit.

Anderson's lands in the rough to the left of the flag, Bennett is behind the hole while Hamilton hit a line drive to finish near the green.

Each finish the hole and move onto the next hole.

They are in the midst of a practice round in preparation to represent the host communities of Harbour Grace and Carbonear at the Games.

It is but a small sample size.

"They can hit the ball," said coach Jack Harrington when asked what might be the strongest part of his athletes' games.

While Harrington did not have the most to choose from, he is confident in the abilities of his four golfers.

"They're shooting in the 40 and 50s, which isn't bad," he said. "If our boys go out and play, they'll do well."

Harrington did not have many athletes come out to the tryouts, but he is pleased with the group he's assembled.

"They're good kids to work with," he said.

Three of the athletes are from the Harbour Grace-Carbonear, while Zack Bennett is from Bay Roberts.

Course familiarity

One advantage the foursome will hold over their opponents is a familiarity with the nine holes at Pitcher's Pond.

It can be seen as a challenging course, with many holes featuring a dog leg in either direction, making tee shots challenging when the dog's leg is coupled with a narrow fairway as found on hole no.2.

All but two of the nine holes are less than a par 4.

With the four athletes routinely practicing in Whiteway, learning every bend and dip to the course, will allow them to bring out the best in their Games when competition time rolls around.

"They've been practicing every week and they'll be familiar with the course," said Harrington.

It is an advantage that will be surely needed when the heaveyweights from St. John's and central come to town for the Games.

Blair Bursey of Gander could be considered one of the favourites in the competition. He is a three time Gander Labatt's Men's Club Championship winner.

Bursey, along with western representatives Ryan Burton, and Daniel Cluney and Avalon's Drew Stonehouse recently competed at the Canadian Junior Boys Golf Championship in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.

A frugal game

Harrington said golf could be a funny game at times.

"It's hard to predict," he said.

One day a golfer can go out and shoot the lights out, and the next day is the exact opposite.

Adding to the unpredictability of the game is the format for the Games.

While it is an individual sport, there is a team format in place for the tournament.

Each team will take its three lowest scores over the two-day competition and tally them together to decide who will be the tournament champion.

Harrington said that if the team plays up to its skills things will be looking up for the squad.

"They'll put on a respectable performance," he said.

nmercer@cbncompass.ca

Members of the team are:

• Zack Bennett - 12, Bay Roberts;

• Nick Hamilton - 16, Carbonear;

• Mitchell Bailey - 17, Harbour Grace;

• Logan Anderson - 17, Harbour Grace.

Organizations: Bailey's, Harbour Grace-Carbonear

Geographic location: Whiteway, Carbonear, Newfoundland and Labrador Bay Roberts St. John's Bridgewater Nova Scotia

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