INNISFAIL - The Innisfail Golf Club is hosting the 2024 Canadian Junior Boys Championship during its 100th anniversary year.
The event becomes the first ever national championship ever hosted by the club; a Golf Canada tournament that has been played since 1938 and has featured Canadian Golf Hall of Famers Doug Silverberg, George Knudson, Gary Cowan and Doug Roxburgh.
The winner of the tournament earns an exemption into the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship and the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.
The four-day, 72-hole junior tourney next summer from Aug. 13 to 16 will also include juvenile championships, as well as the junior inter-provincial team championship held in conjunction with the first 36 holes.
A total field of 156 young golfers will be participating at the national event.
Kendall Keeley, general manager of the Innisfail Golf Club, said securing the club’s first-ever national championship through Golf Canada was “good timing” as he was tasked to find a signature 100th anniversary event when he was hired in January of this year.
“We're shining a new light on the Innisfail Golf Club, and that was my goal,” said Keeley. “I took the initiative to reach out to the Golf Canada to see if they were still looking for a host for any of their tournaments.
“Alberta was kind of on their radar of where they'd like to host,” he added. “They thought based on the feedback they received from Alberta Golf and how we've done and how the course has been for hosting men's amateur championships and other events we've had here that the Innisfail Golf Club would be a good host for their junior boys event.”
Keeley, who was involved in the 2019 Canadian Men's Amateur Championship when he was golf operations manager at The Links at Brunello golf club in Nova Scotia, said the Innisfail club learned on July 19 from Golf Canada that it would be hosting the 2024 Canadian Junior Boys Championship.
The club closed for the season on Sunday, Oct. 8 and has been busy since mid-month with making its first major decisions to prepare for its first national event.
Keeley said club member Brett Kelly has been selected as host chair.
“Brett and I have met, and now we're working towards creating a plan on selecting and advertising other volunteer positions to be chairs of committees,” said Keeley. “The big things for us are going to be finding chairs for the committees. We do have a lot of work to do where we need to provide transportation for the players from their host hotel.
“That's going to be a big moving part for us, getting our hands on some vehicles, finding the drivers, and to be able to set that up,” he added. “Funding is another big one that we have as well.”
Keeley said the club will be reaching out to the local community to help with fundraising to cover tournament costs, including daily meals.
He said the club has a fundraising target of $25,000 to help offset those costs.
Keeley said the club also needs 100 volunteers for the four-day event and will be looking for someone to lead them.
“We have let the members know that we are doing the event and that's the only kind of news we've spread,” said Keeley. “And now I feel like it's a good time to start drumming up some awareness. We are going to be going out soon to find these key individuals and to start having meetings about funding for this event.”
Most importantly, added Keeley, is the national recognition the Innisfail Golf Club will get by getting its first-ever national championship.
“Partnering with somebody like Golf Canada is the mecca of golf in our country,” said Keeley. “We're going to be co-branded. We'll have our logo on it. We're hosted on their website now. People follow where these events are.
“So, not only will we have eyes on us during that event, but we will also now create awareness leading up to it because people want to go and play on golf courses where national events are being held,” he added. “And we also need to shine a light on the Town of Innisfail, and move forward, especially with the economic impact this will bring into our community.
“I think it's time to welcome everybody else in.”