Canada West announced on Wednesday that the conference golf championship, set for the fall of 2020, is set to continue following a vote from all 17 CW member schools.
Prior to Canada West announcing that all first-term team sports would not proceed in early June, UBC Okanagan had successfully won the bid to host the second Canada West Golf Championships at the Okanagan Golf Club's Bear Course (OGC).
UBCO hosted the conference's inaugural championship last fall as the sport made its conference debut. Golf, at the Canada West level, was officially added as a sport following the 2018 Canada West AGM.
In that first championship last October at the OGC, the UBC Thunderbirds were crowned champions on the women's side while the UFV Cascades brought home the first-ever CW men's banner. As for the home team, the Heat women finished in fifth place while the men missed the podium by 3-strokes, finishing fourth.
"I'm hesitant to say I'm excited about the announcement from Canada West on Wednesday," said Tom Huisman, UBC Okanagan's Director, Athletics and Recreation. "It's unfortunate that so many sports and student athletes from across the country are having their seasons altered or even lost by COVID-19. But the nature of golf lends itself to physically distancing and inherently follows many of the health and safety guidelines. The CW COVID-19 Task Force, after much hard work, was able to see how a championship could be run safely, and I'm pleased that the Canada West members saw fit to crown champions in the sport of golf in 2020."
"After hosting an outstanding inaugural championship last fall at the Okanagan Golf Club, I look forward to working with the same esteemed group again to host a second-consecutive great event for the Conference," finished Huisman.
"The Canada West announcement on Wednesday will give our golfers some clarity and purpose to their training and to the upcoming fall," said Heat golf coach Clay Stothers. "Both our men's and women's teams last year put together a strong tournament, and with the men finishing fourth, they qualified for the Canadian University/College golf championships - a school first. But without that podium finish, the teams felt they left some hardware on the table."
"Having the tournament on our home course again this year," continued Stothers, "The Heat golfers will be looking to this October as a chance to stamp their name as one of the elite golf schools in Western Canada."
Looking at this fall's UBCO roster, on the men's side the Heat return three of their five qualifying golfers, including their top finisher, Nik Federko, who finished fourth overall in 2019. To bolster their lineup, the men's team dipped into the deep Okanagan golf talent pool by adding a recent OKM grad. Former Huskie, Justin Towill, the winner of the 2018 MJT National Championship, is slated to join the team.
The UBCO women will be in good shape for this season. Heading into her third year, and once again leading the way, will be human kinetics student Samantha Copeland. Copeland finished strong in last year's championship, she lit the Bear course up for a 37 over her last nine holes to lock in her spot as the Heat's top finisher. A bit of youth will be added to this veteran core as the Heat have added Kendra Jones-Munk, a talented newcomer from Vernon.
The Canada West championship is slated for October 2-4. The Bear course at the Okanagan Golf Club will be able to work out some COVID-19 procedures in tournament play later this month when the course plays host to the 118th BC Amateur/Junior Boys Championship running from July 28 - 30. Several current and former UBCO golfers, including the aforementioned Federko, are among the over 150 entrants.
The Okanagan Golf Club has been the home of the Heat golf team since 2008, and has hosted nine varsity tournaments for UBC Okanagan in that time. Including last year's inaugural Canada West golf championship.
The Bear's 18-hole 6,885-yard, par 72 masterpiece design opened for play in 1999 and is unlike any other golf course in British Columbia. With dramatic sculpted fairways surrounded by the forests and sagebrush hills of B.C.'s sun-drenched southern interior. The Bear is the crown jewel course of the Okanagan Valley.