Three Cheers for Vanessa!

Pictured above: Vanessa Borovilos with coach Doug Lawrie

If you haven’t been able to get whipped up with enthusiasm for the Olympics yet, you can look forward to the start of the men’s golf competition on Thursday this week, culminating in the final round on Sunday.   The women start their tournament on Wednesday NEXT week, and culminate on Saturday, Aug. 20.

Canada’s best hope for a golf gold medal probably lies with our young phenom, Brooke Henderson, but her team-mate Alena Sharp has been having her best year ever on the LPGA Tour, and may surprise us all in Rio.

But in the meantime, all of Canada should bask in the glory of yet another budding, home-grown golf superstar, my little buddy Vanessa Borovilos from Mississauga, who won the 10-year-old girls WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP this past weekend in Pinehurst, Nawth Ca-lyna!!

Vanessa, you may recall, has qualified and competed for two straight years in the National Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Augusta, and done very well.

But what she did this weekend in Pinehurst is PHENOMENAL.  She shot rounds of 71-70-71, which was four under par, beating Lucy Yuan (of Vancouver, no less) by five shots… in a total field of 102 golfers from 17 countries in her age group… on a difficult course at Seven Lakes Country Club, measuring 4524 yards.

Her coach, mentor, and biggest cheerleader is Doug Lawrie, who’s pretty renowned in Canada for the work he’s doing with junior players at his Focus Golf Group Academy, also in Mississauga.  (He’s also the Head Teaching Professional at Credit Valley.)  I had the pleasure of having Doug and Vanessa on my TV show after her first Augusta appearance and they make a great team together… he does most of the talking, while she articulates with her clubs.  (Doug also had a boy student in the U.S. Kids WORLDS… 10-year-old Alex Long, who shot 67 on Saturday with three birdies, an eagle and an ACE!!)

Doug sent me an email on Sunday describing the last couple of holes in Vanessa’s Saturday final:

The ending was epic. 15th hole standing over their approaches to the green with 2 shots between them V was first and hit her SW to 8 ft above the hole. Lucy hit hers to 6 ft. V made. Lucy missed. 3 shot lead. Next hole V faced a slippery chip back to the pin from the fringe but left herself 2 ft. 

V then closed it out with back to back birdies on the 17th and 18th holes in front of the crowd. Incredible. 

 [Vanessa] led from day one on the strength of driving it super straight. This continued each day. It was 100+ with the humidity all three days.

As I said in response to Doug, “what a little Tiger”… and I kinda hope that name sticks.

Vanessa “Tiger” Borovilos… put that name in your memory banks, friends!!  If golf stays in the Olympics after this year, we may have a gold medalist on our list for 2024…

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As some of you may remember, I’ve written in the past about keeping a record of all the golf courses I’ve played in life, since I first teed it up over 60 years ago.  This past weekend, I played course number 299 for me, and on Wednesday this week, I’ve been invited to play what will become no. 300.

I’ve been fortunate to be a Muskoka cottager all my life, and I’ve played most of the courses – old and new – in the area.  But I had never played North Granite Ridge, a public course just south of Huntsville… partly because I hadn’t heard raving reviews of the place, and partly because I just never got around to it.

North Granite Ridge

North Granite Ridge

Well, what a mistake that was!  I played it with three friends on Saturday, and was blown away with what a fine test of golf it is, literally carved out of the pines and rock.  No, it’s not manicured thoroughbred like Muskoka Bay or Rocky Crest or Bigwin, but North Granite Ridge IS a very fine summer course, not long but certainly not a pussy cat, either.  The greens are in immaculate shape, not overly fast, but beautifully contoured so that you aren’t faced with some of the psychedelic mounds and slopes that modern designers like to throw at you.  Not one hole was like the others, not one hole was bad, and the par threes were all very photogenic.  The green fee was in the $85 range, and I felt I got great value for the money as I drove home.  Highly recommended.

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Sorry to see that Nike is getting out of the golf equipment and ball manufacturing business, although I must admit I’ve never gone out of my way to buy anything with the swoosh.  I’m not surprised, though.  Golf participation is definitely declining – I see this at public and private clubs everywhere… and that means that golf club and ball sales will be declining too.  And unless your name is Taylor, Callaway, Adidas or Ping, surviving in a declining market has got to be hurting all the second tier brands.  And all the people who work for them, and sell them.

I’m all for progress, but in some situations – like this one – I wish I could turn back the clock about a decade.

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