SEPTEMBER 14, 2020
RICHMOND, BC (PGA of British Columbia) – Having won in his tournament debut a year ago, Mark Kitts will try to go 2-for-2 in next week’s Srixon/Cleveland Golf/XXIO PGA of BC Championship presented by Oakcreek Golf & Turf LP at Nicklaus North Golf Course.
Shadow Ridge Golf Club’s Head Professional went bogey-free over 36 holes in the tournament at Kelowna Golf & Country Club in 2019, which marked the 36-year-old’s first year of Club Professional Championship eligibility. He was the only player to card two sub-70 rounds and secured a one-stroke victory over Dave Zibrik (Point Grey Golf & Country Club) at 7-under-par.
Kitts will be up against a field of 44 other Head, Executive and Head Teaching Professionals when defending his title but won’t have the comforts of home with the scene shifting to Whistler this year.
“I think maybe sleeping in my own bed,” Kitts said when asked what helped him play flawlessly a year ago. “I was right close to home and that might have helped a bit … I didn’t realize I’d gone bogey-free until I’d finished and it was kind of a shocker.”
Last year’s victory gave him PGA of BC titles in consecutive seasons, as he captured the 2018 Pro-Assistant Championship alongside James Presnail at Black Mountain Golf Club. Should Kitts successfully defend his title, he’ll become the first player to win PGA of BC championships in three straight seasons since Philip Jonas (Philip Jonas Golf Academy) followed his 2015 and 2016 Seniors’ Championships with a CPC win in 2017.
“I do think it fits my game pretty well – a resort-style course that’s friendly off the tee, with big greens where you’ve definitely got to be on the right tier,” Kitts said of Nicklaus North. “I do remember it quite well – hopefully well enough – and I’m hoping I can hit the ball as well as I did at the country club (last year).”
Although the par-71 layout should play as Kitts recalls, Nicklaus North is sporting somewhat of a new look this year after a multi-million dollar renovation to the clubhouse. Host Head Professional Andrew Smart is excited for participants to experience the new improvements.
“Unfortunately, COVID has kind of affected our ability to showcase that, but we’ve definitely upgraded the clubhouse. It was originally built in 1996 and was due for a tune-up,” said Smart. “We’re really excited with where we are and what we’re doing.”
The golf course itself is reason to be excited as well. Smart credited first-year superintendent Aaron Mansbridge and his team for keeping the grounds in pristine shape throughout the season.
“I think the players are going to be pleasantly surprised by the quality of golf we’re putting out,” said Smart.
The quality of play should be strong for next week’s tournament as well with a deep and talented field set to compete. It includes 2017 winner Jonas, who will be teeing it up in his final PGA of BC championship tournament before relocating to Saskatchewan for a new opportunity at Saskatoon Golf & Country Club. Other previous Club Professional Champions will include Zibrik (2016), two-time winner Lindsay Bernakevitch (Victoria Golf Club, 2015 & 2018) and Rob Anderson (Kelowna Golf & Country Club, 2007). The field will also feature 2018 Head Professional Champion of Canada Brian McDonald (Fairview Mountain Golf Club).
As with previous PGA of BC championships conducted in 2020, the tournament will observe various COVID-19 protocols, including the elimination of touch points, caddies and spectators.
A surge of interest in golf throughout the summer months has meant tee sheets at PGA of BC facilities have been jam-packed, leaving many Golf Professionals with few opportunities to focus on playing themselves. The Club Professional Championship typically provides a breather at the end of an eventful season for competitors – perhaps more so in 2020 than any other in the past.
“Golf has been super busy this year and it is nice to get away and take a break from all of the chaos around the golf course,” said Kitts. “It’ll definitely be nice to travel with (Presnail) from here and we’ll have a good time.”
Click here to view the event page, including full tournament details and a list of confirmed competitors.
CLUB PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP FAST FACTS
•Nicklaus North last hosted a PGA of BC championship event in 2017, welcoming the Tournament of Champions. It hasn’t been the venue for one of the Association’s individual stroke-play events since the Players’ Championship, a now-defunct tournament for top finishers on the previous year’s Order of Merit that was held at Nicklaus North each year of its existence between 1997 and 2002.
•The tournament scoring record is 137, which has been the winning mark achieved by three of the past four winners – Zibrik in 2016, Jonas in 2017 and Kitts last year. Zibrik’s 9-under total at Quilchena Golf & Country Club is the event’s record relative to par.
•Bernakevitch, Dean Claggett (Two Eagles Golf Course & Academy) and Dan Swanson are the only players with multiple titles in the event, having each won twice. Swanson's wins in 2010 and 2011 remain the only instance of a player earning back-to-back wins.
•Anderson will be looking to extend an incredible streak in next week’s tournament. The 52-year-old has played in all 14 previous editions of the Club Professional Championship and never placed outside the top 10, extending the phenomenal run of play last year with a T10 finish.
•A strong crop of first-time competitors will try to match Kitts in winning their Club Professional Championship debut next week. Among them are Ryan Tofani (Chilliwack Golf Club), Lee J.H. Lee (GolfTEC Richmond), Nathan Grieve (Talking Rock Golf Course), Rob Tadey (Fairview Mountain Golf Club), Greg Pool (Northview Golf & Country Club), Craig Barr (Meadow Gardens Golf Club), Steven MacPherson (Storey Creek Golf Club) and Ken Langdon (Blue Ocean Golf Club).
•Look back on past editions of the Club Professional Championship using our Championship History Hub.
•The winner will have their name etched on the Dick Munn Memorial Trophy, which was re-named in Munn's honour in 2015. Becoming Head Professional at Cedar Hill Golf Course at just 19 years old, Munn went on to be the longtime Head Professional at Point Grey Golf & Country Club. He later co-founded Gallagher's Canyon Golf Club in 1980, where he remained until his retirement in 1992. One of the most respected Professionals in our Association's history, Munn was named the PGA of Canada's Club Professional of the Year in 1975 and is one of only nine individuals to be honoured with a PGA of BC Lifetime Achievement Award, which he received in 2010.
About Srixon/Cleveland Golf/XXIO
Based in Huntington Beach, Calif., Cleveland® Golf, Srixon®, and XXIO® are all part of the SUMITOMO RUBBER INDUSTRIES, LTD. family and each brand enjoys a strong presence on competitive tours worldwide. Their professional staffs include players such as Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley, Hideki Matsuyama, Inbee Park, Nasa Hataoka, Minjee Lee, as well as many others. Cleveland® Golf, founded in 1979, is a leading equipment manufacturer specializing in short game technologies and solutions that benefit all golfers. Srixon®, with more than 80 years of golf ball manufacturing experience, is committed to producing the highest quality, technically innovative golf balls which offer maximum performance to golfers of all levels of ability. XXIO®, with its longstanding tradition of premium golf clubs in Japan, brings the No. 1 golf brand in Japan to America. Cleveland® Golf, Srixon®, and XXIO® remain steadfastly committed to providing "Tour proven, premium golf equipment to passionate golfers seeking to improve their performance while enhancing their experience playing the game of golf. Visit Srixon, Cleveland Golf & XXIO online to learn more.
About Oakcreek Golf & Turf LP
Oakcreek Golf & Turf LP is Western Canada’s full-service distributor of Toro Commercial Turf Care Equipment, Toro Golf Irrigation Equipment and Yamaha Golf Cars, plus all additional related products. It proudly offers the very best quality products and professional service and support to golf courses, municipal parks, independent landscapers and private clients. Oakcreek Golf & Turf LP has been in business since 1969 and currently employs approximately 100 people throughout the year at its six locations throughout Western Canada. For more information, visit www.oakcreekgolf.com.
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Communications & Marketing Manager, PGA of BC