Jason Logan

Team From Links at Brunello Goes Wire-to-wire to Win 2023 RBC PGA Scramble

By: Jason Logan, SCOREGolf

Original story in SCOREGolf here


INVERNESS, N.S. – Like probably every team competing at the RBC PGA Scramble, the squad representing The Links at Brunello in Halifax had a group chat going throughout their journey to the National Finals at Cabot Cape Breton.

On Monday night, before the final round at Cabot Links, the chat was renamed to “Pressure is a Privilege.”

“I’ve been telling the guys that all week,” said the team’s pro, Justin Caron, whose grandmother came from Sydney, NS to watch him play. “Soak it all in. That’s what we’re here for. We did a lot of good stuff to get ourselves in this position so let’s keep on trucking.”

Keep on trucking they did. The fivesome — comprised of weekend golf pals Gregg Bandy (a physiotherapist), Jordan Bastarache (an associate investment advisor), Jeremy Leblanc (an accountant) and Jordan Thorne (a resident physician) — ultimately scored a wire-to-wire victory, with a third-round adjusted score of 19.1 under par to total 58.9 under for the three days. They edged the team from Manitoba’s Carman Golf and Curling Club by 2.5 shots, with New Brunswick’s Petitcodiac Valley G&CC finishing third.

“I can’t even describe this. I’m feeling on top of the world,” said Bandy. “The only thing that makes it better is doing it with these guys, for sure. We were trying not to look at the leaderboard too much but once the drives were out there (on 18) and the green was hit, the pit in the stomach went away.”

The boys from Brunello, who reached the regional finals last year with Caron, had shots to play with on the final hole thanks to a net eagle on the par-4 16th and a key par save on the par-3 17th, where every team member missed the green and they were forced to play an escape shot from the fescue.

“That’s absolutely what you don’t want to do,” laughed Bandy of the pickle on the penultimate hole. “I’m just happy it worked out. It was kind of close your eyes and hope.”

While Brunello, guided by longtime Cabot caddie Archie MacDonnell, who helped P.E.I.’s Belvedere Golf Club to the title last year, was the team holding the trophy in the end, all 100 participants had already won just by getting here.

“This is a dream come true,” said Petitcodiac Valley pro Kristi Roach, walking to the 16th tee Tuesday. “Today might be the best day of our golfing life. We’re having so much fun. I said, ‘Is there a prize for this?’ Like, this is the prize. Look around. Unbelievable.”

“I’d heard nothing but good things about this experience and I think being here tops it,” said Craig Gibson, Sirocco Golf Club’s Head Professional . “It’s probably been the best four days of my golf life. I’m with four guys I grew up with from a small town in Brooks, Alberta. It’s been incredible and I don’t think you could have another trip that tops this.”

While Gibson was playing with childhood pals, the championship served as a family affair for the team representing Kelowna, B.C.’s Black Mountain Golf Club, with brothers Darren and Ryan Leffers playing alongside their father Andrew and uncle Brian Groot.

“Thinking about coming here, it was, how far does the forecast go out so we can start watching it?” smiled Darren Leffers, walking to the 17th green. “I had another golf trip to Phoenix before this and I wasn’t really looking forward to it anymore knowing that we were coming here. Nothing compares to this; it’s the pinnacle of golf in Canada.”

Standing on the 18th green of Cabot Links in the dark after the trophy presentation, the winners from Brunello offered their thoughts on the most memorable moments of the four-day trip.

Thorne said the “golf shot I will never forget,” referencing Caron’s 3-wood from 250 yards to three feet on the eighth hole Tuesday, which turned around a sluggish start. Leblanc pointed to Caron’s eagle bomb on the 18th hole at Cabot Cliffs on Monday while Caron said it was Bastarache’s birdie conversion on the 16th, which essentially sealed the deal. And Bandy said surviving and thriving in the wicked weather of the opening round on Cabot Links, when the team jumped out to a big lead with some great play.

But it was Bastarache, who served as the team captain, who perhaps summed up the spirit of the RBC PGA Scramble best.

“My best part was just time with these guys,” he said. “It was a blast the whole way through. The drive up was a blast. We had some of the best laughs we’ve ever had.”

Laughs that will sure be topped by those enjoyed during the drive home.

Squad From the Links at Brunello Look to Go Wire-to-wire at RBC PGA Scramble National Final

By: Jason Logan, SCOREGOLF

See the original story posted on SCOREGOLF here



INVERNESS, N.S. – There are few, if any, golf course hangs that rival the white couches behind the 18th green at Cabot Cliffs.

On a cloudless afternoon like today, it is a spot to sit and wish time could stand still. To soak in the surroundings high above the dark blue waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence as you watch group after group come home on the bucket-list course’s beautiful par-5 finishing hole. Hoping the sun will never set so you’ll never have to leave.

Such scenes play out all summer long here in Inverness, N.S., and did so again during the second round of the RBC PGA Scramble. Golfers who had finished their rounds sat on the sofas to swap stories, share laughs and pinch themselves over the journey they are on.

“Oh my god. This is so fun. To have this view, to see the golfers, to be out here today and just enjoy the camaraderie,” said Kaisa Manttari from the Sault Ste. Marie Golf Club, whose team is in ninth place through 36 holes.

“I’ve said this a couple of times to people who have asked, they say it’s an experience of a lifetime, well, until you are actually sitting here and experiencing it, those are just words,” said Mantarri’s teammate, Mary Hart. “This is reality. Looking out with a couple of nice Cabot beers, this is an incredible adventure that we, together, have taken that words can’t express until you’re actually here looking at it.”

Pushed for those words, Hart mulled and said “picturesque,” but no, she stated, that doesn’t do it justice. She thought longer until a third member of the Soo group chimed in.

“Magical,” stated Mary Jean Chartrand.

“That’s a good one,” replied Hart, smiling.

While the women from the Soo and others were aglow looking back down the closing hole, Oliver Mongeau will have the fondest memories of the par-3 ninth where he made a hole-in-one in the first group out.

"It's unbelievable,” said Mongeau. “First one every, too, so to do with my friends, my teammates, is a fantastic feeling.”

Yes, it is. As much as there is a national championship at stake, all the finals participants feel like winners because of where they are playing. Thankful, even away from their families on Thanksgiving weekend, for the opportunity to take on Canada’s No.-1 ranked course.

“Standing on the 18th tee, looking down the fairway at the hole, that is the best view in the world,” said Craig Gibson, the head professional at Sirocco Golf Club outside Calgary, who captured last year’s PGA Head Professional Championship of Canada.

“This is the nicest golf course I’ll ever play and I’ve been smiling the whole time,” said Matt Glowa, representing Manitoba’s Carman Golf and Curling Club. “This is a dream come true.”

Glowa and his teammates Matt Scharer, Jeff Kowalchuk and Chris Plishka, along with Carman GC head pro Dean North, have the chance to smile for months as they currently sit in second place. An adjusted score of 22.4 under par on Cabot Cliffs, which played much easier than Cabot Links in the wind and rain Sunday, has them at 37.4 under for the tournament and within striking distance of the leaders from The Links at Brunello.

“You don’t come here to lose. You come here to play as good as you can on every shot,” added Glowa. “We’re just going to take it one shot at a time, really. We’re not winning, we’re chasing, so we have to play good tomorrow.”

Chasing because the Brunello team capped its day with an eagle on the 18th hole courtesy of a long bomb by professional Justin Caron. They’ll start Tuesday’s final round with a 2.4-shot advantage over Team Carman. In third place is the squad from New Brunswick’s Petitcodiac Valley Golf and Country Club while fourth place belongs to Ontario’s Royal Ashburn Golf Club.

“That kid is the best golfer I’ve ever played with and we’ve been watching him read putts and do stuff like that all day,” said Team Brunello’s Jeremy Leblanc of Caron. “Definitely special with the sunset in the background and he’s absolutely unbelievable. He earned it.”

Leblanc added that his squad likely has an advantage this week given they hail from Halifax and have made a few trips to Cabot over the years. Nonetheless, starting with the lead in tomorrow’s final round will be a big challenge.

“There will definitely be nerves,” Leblanc said. “Most of us haven’t really played competitive golf so it’s a bit of a different thing but we’re really excited and definitely want to hold on for the rest of the tournament.”

Team From Links At Brunello Takes Day-One Lead At RBC PGA Scramble National Final

Team from Links at Brunello takes day-one lead at RBC PGA Scramble National Final

By: Jason Logan, ScoreGolf

Original Story:  https://scoregolf.com/opinion/jason-logan/neither-rain-nor-wind-nor-delay-gets-in-the-way-of-day-one-fun-at-rbc-pga-scramble/

INVERNESS, N.S. -- The beauty of a golf scramble is that the world’s hardest and most fickle solo sport becomes a team effort, meaning poor play won’t — or shouldn’t — matter with multiple chances for success on every shot.

One hundred golfers at the RBC PGA Scramble national finals at Cabot Cape Breton sure were thankful for that format today, with Mother Nature at her nastiest as play unfolded on Cabot Links.

Yes folks, there was some scrambling to be done on Day One.

“It was a grind. Windy, rainy. Course was in beautiful condition, there was nothing wrong with it, that’s for sure, but that was one of the hardest rounds of golf I’ve ever played,” said Travis Coughlin of Team Prescott Golf Club, which, impressively, did not make a bogey en route to an adjusted score of 8.3 under par to sit in 14th place. “I am going to take a hot shower and then I am going to the patio for a beverage.”

While the day began under rather benign conditions, high winds and rain moved in at lunchtime, putting teams to the test until play was suspended for an hour. One longtime Cabot caddie estimated the gusts to be upwards of 60 km/h, though he added he’s seen it blow harder many times through the years.

With the benefit of an early tee time, the team from Nova Scotia’s The Links at Brunello handled the exam best, firing an adjusted 18.1 under par (and gross score of 59) to take the lead.

“It was phenomenal. The conditions were a little crazy but lucky enough we were out there early and got the better side of the draw so it was a blast,” said Team Brunello member Jordan Bastarache. “You hit the ball and you think you hit it incredibly well and it’s going 210 yards … Everyone is going to struggle out there coming in, but luckily we’re warm now.”

In second place at 15 under is Manitoba’s Team Carman Golf & Curling Club, led by PGA of Canada pro Dean North. Behind Carman is the squad from New Brunswick’s Petitcodiac Valley G&CC at 12.7 under. The RBC PGA Scramble sees foursomes that advance through the local qualifying stage joined by a pro from the host club to form fivesomes for the regional and national finals. North is vying to become the first multiple-time champion of the event as he helped four different golfers from Carman G&CC to the title in 2019.

“My guys, the positivity they showed through those conditions was incredible,” said North. “Not one moment did they get down about the rain, did they get down about the wind, we just made the best of it,” said North.

In the top 10 thus far are both all-female wildcard teams. The quintent representing Ontario’s Kenora Golf and Country Club, comprised of four women from Manitoba and Kenora pro Blair Young, sits at 11.7 under par while the team from Innisfil Creek Golf Club south of Barrie, Ont., is at 9.9 under. This is the first year for an all-female team pathway to the national finals.

“The challenge was first-hand experience at links golf,” said Cassandra Phillip of Team Innisfil Creek. “The (Greater Toronto Area) has its links courses but they are nothing compared to what we played today. We weathered it well. It was a mental challenge but we got through it and scramble golf makes this more enjoyable Couldn’t imagine playing this stroke golf.”

Because of the delay, not all teams completed their first round as play was suspended due to darkness. Those squads will finish up on Cabot Links Monday morning before the second round begins on Cabot Cliffs. The 54-hole event concludes Tuesday.