Ziemer's B.C. Golf Notes: No development for Langara, park board declares; Lauren Kim rises in world rankings; Macdonald, du Toit and Ewart prepare for second stage of Q-school

View From The 1st Tee At Vancouver's Langara Golf Club - Image Credit Bryan Outram/BC Golf

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Even on these soggy November days, there is plenty of roll on the fairways at Langara Golf Course. And now, thanks to a unanimous vote last week by the Vancouver Park Board, there is also plenty of optimism about the course’s future.

For not the first time, there have been calls recently from academics and assorted others to have at least part of Langara used for affordable housing. The park board’s answer was an emphatic no and commissioner Brennan Bastyovanszky indicated his ABC party colleagues on Vancouver city council feel the same way.

“ABC has a very strong stance,” Bastyovanszky told Global BC. “The mayor and council and park board are all aligned. Green space stays green space.”

This is music to the ears of golfers and Dennis Luick, the city’s supervisor of golf operations. Luick said the park board decision will allow Langara to continue to plan for its future. “It just allows us a clear vision for the next 10 years,” Luick said in an interview with British Columbia Golf.

“There has been a lot of uncertainty, both for staff and for golfers in the City of Vancouver for a lot of years, about what is going to come from the golf strategy and this gives us a narrower scope where we can focus on analyzing golf in Vancouver and how we can do it better.”

The park board’s decision comes after Langara recently completed a four-year drainage project that has vastly improved the course’s conditioning, especially in the wet winter and shoulder seasons. While parts of the course used to be virtually unplayable in winter months, Langara is now one of the best winter courses in the Metro Vancouver area. Area golfers seem to have taken note.

Langara used to trail its city counterparts, Fraserview and McCleery, in rounds played. It now leads the way as more and more golfers have come to appreciate the results of the drainage project, which saw 83 kilometres of drainage pipe laid beneath its fairways.

“Langara had been typically under-utilized in the shoulder and winter seasons, and I think that brought a lot of pressure over the years that it wasn’t being utilized the best way,” Luick said. “And now in 2022 they had the highest round total of the three championship courses and they are trending to be a couple thousand rounds higher than the other two again this year. It is the golfers who speak to how well the project has gone and they are kind of doing that right now.”

Like golf courses everywhere, the city’s three championship courses and its three pitch and putt layouts have benefitted from increased play since the Covid pandemic. Record rounds were posted in 2021. They dropped ever so slightly last year and Lucik said 2023 is shaping up to be an excellent year. If the weather doesn’t get too bad, rounds played could possibly match those from 2021.

“It’s a pleasant surprise given the economic outlook out there with interest rates and the cost of living, but we are very encouraged,” Luick said. Vancouver’s golf operations turn a handsome profit for the city and much of that revenue is used to service other sports and recreation services.

ON THE RISE: Surrey’s Lauren Kim has moved up six spots to No. 36 in the latest World Amateur Golf Rankings, thanks to her recent tie for eighth finish at the Women’s World Amateur Team Championships in Abu Dhabi. The next highest Canadian is Monet Chun of Richmond Hill, Ont., who is 90th. With universities now beginning their winter breaks, the world rankings shouldn’t change much over the next three months. Kim, a freshman at the University of Texas, is now in a position where she could get an invitation to play in next spring’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur tournament.

ALL-AMERICANS: Kim and Vancouver’s Vanessa Zhang were selected last week as Rolex Junior All-Americans by the American Junior Golf Association. Both were named to the second team. Vancouver’s Michelle Liu, Amy Lee of Langley and Luna Lu of Burnaby received honourable mentions. The 2023 class includes 48 boys and 48 girls, aged 14-19. The teams were determined exclusively through the Rolex AJGA Rankings.

TITLE DEFENCE LOOMS: Surrey’s Adam Svensson tied for 45th at last week’s World Wide Technology Championship in Los Cabos, Mexico, where South African Erik van Rooyen was the winner. Svensson, who finished 13 shots behind Van Rooyen at 14-under par and earned $22,622, is expected to defend his title at next week’s RSM Classic in Sea Pines, Ga. The PGA TOUR is in Bermuda this week for the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, where Ontario natives Michael Gligic and Taylor Pendrith are the Canadians competing.

SCHOOL DAYS: The second-stage of the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school goes Nov. 14-17 at four sites. However, the three British Columbians who are playing in second stage won’t tee it up until later this month. Jared du Toit of Kimberley and Stuart Macdonald of Vancouver are competing Nov. 28-Dec. 1 at a second-stage site in Valencia, Calif. Coquitlam’s A.J. Ewart will be playing his second stage that same week in Valdosta, Ga. All three are looking to advance to the final stage of Q-school, which goes Dec. 14-17 at the Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

FOUR SHOTS SHY: Coquitlam’s Henry Lee tied for 42nd at four-under par and failed to advance at a DP World Tour second-stage qualifying school site in Almeria, Spain. It took a score of eight-under or better to advance to the final stage of Q-school at Lee’s site. One Canadian did advance at another second-stage site. Toronto’s Sebastian Szirmak, playing at a site in Huelva, Spain, tied for 19th to advance to the Q-school finals, which are being played Nov. 10-15 in Tarragona, Spain.

CHIP SHOTS: The schedule for the new PGA Tour Americas circuit is expected to be released this week and Victoria will be the lone British Columbia stop. . .Thomas Lemay of Trois-Rivieres, Que., has committed to the UBC-Okanagan men’s golf team. Lemay finished second at this year’s NextGen Quebec Championship.