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Competition heated up at Men’s Interclub

27 SEP 2017

Blue Springs and Hautes Plaines turned up the heat on the competition on their way to sizzling victories in their respective divisions at the 2017 ClubLink Men’s Interclub Championship presented by WestJet in Muskoka.

As a record setting heatwave swept through the GTA on the first weekend of fall, 24 teams from across the ClubLink family of courses in Ontario and Quebec enjoyed the finest weather ever experienced for the men’s interclub championship with two spectacular days of blue skies, little wind and temperatures soaring to 30 C each day and feeling much hotter on the fairways and under the pressure.

There wasn’t a pair of long pants to be seen for the two days at Rocky Crest and The Lake Joseph Club unless you were a club professional and that’s a big change from the torrential rain on day two last year or some interclub championships in the past where there have been frost delays and toques to be worn.

“It’s the best weather ever. Usually we are wearing a turtleneck and a couple of layers of clothing for the men’s interclub championship, but these two days have been beautiful, magnificent,” says Frederic Dionne, the team captain for Islesmere. “This little adventure is really about the team, bonding with the guys and having a good time. We drive six-plus hours to get here and six-plus hours home and each time I tell myself I’m not coming back, but I keep coming back and I will probably be back next year. It’s just such a great event!

The 24 teams that consisted of six players (five Members and a director of operations) were split into two flights – The WestJet Flight and TaylorMade Flight and each Club played both courses to determine the champions.

“I had been to Men’s Night Championship before. This is my first time at the Men’s Interclub Championship and it’s a first class event. They take it up a notch and really know how to look after you. It’s a first-class event,” says Robert Palmieri from Glendale. “As a member of ClubLink and if you don’t get here, you are really missing out on a terrific event. I would love to come back next year or maybe even go to Florida with the top teams.”

On day one at The Lake Joseph Club in the TaylorMade Flight, Hautes Plaines (Paul Trottier, Michel Larocque, Sebastien Cote, Stephane Racine, James Labelle and professional Jean Leduc) scorched the course and the competition with a team score of 126 points, for an eight-point lead over Wyndance (Warren Bregman, Jeff Agnew, Tom Flanagan, James, Olesinski, Greg Eickmeier and professional Jamie Al-Jbouri) and a 10-point lead over Montreal rivals, Fontainebleau. Nothing changed after day two at Rocky Crest and Hautes Plaines packed their bags with the champion’s trophies and some nice loot from TaylorMade for the return trip to Ottawa.

“It was definitely worth the drive,” said Michel Larocque, who played in the championship for the very first time and captained the winning team from Hautes Plaines. “Everyone on the team has been extremely satisfied with the entire trip from start to finish. We definitely want to defend our title next year, or make it to the finals in Florida. They drove from Ottawa to Muskoka on Friday and played a practice round at Lake Joseph Club on Saturday, a strategic move that paid off, before the Sunday/Monday tournament.

“I can tell you that it’s not any warmer in Florida than it has been for the past two day in Muskoka,” added Paul Trottier, who was part of the Hautes Plaines team that made it to the Florida finals in 2016. “This has been a really enjoyable few days. The team is really what makes it fun and ClubLink treats us very well. The gifts, the food, the resort and the golf are great. Rocky Crest Golf Resort was perfect for this event. Jean (Leduc) is also a terrific club professional for us.” Hautes Plaines last won the Men’s Interclub Championship in 2012 at Grandview. They have been to the Florida finals twice without a win, so that victory remains on the “To Do” list.

On day one, on home turf in the WestJet Flight, Rocky Crest soared into the lead with a team total of 123 points followed by National Pines at 120 points and a three-way tie for third between GreyHawk, Le Maitre and Emerald Hills. However, on day two at The Lake Joseph Club, Rocky Crest plunged to ninth place, while Blue Springs (Robert Appleby, David Lush, Tom Nowak, Jeffery Graham, Michael Alderman and professional Dave Belletrutti) rallied for the victory.

“We all played "ok" in the first round. Nobody was thrilled with their scores but nobody was disappointed either. We were six points back of the lead, so if we could all play a couple point better, we'd have a shot,” says David Belletrutti, Director of Operations at Blue Springs. “We actually shot the same total score each day. When we finished our second round and talked as a group, we figured we were nowhere near the lead since we didn't improve our scores over day one.”

After starting the final round T8, Blue Springs won in a chip-off over National Pines (John Moniz, Sebastian Sentilar, Brandon Nguyen, Josh Ayotte, Chris Clarridge and professional Kevin Bailie) after both teams tied with a score of 234 points.

Dave Lush, Blue Springs’ men’s captain and Mike Alderman participated. Lush went first and hit a great 40-foot chip to inside of a foot. Alderman went next and hit his chip in the hole, forcing the National Pines twosome to make their chip, which they came close, but couldn't do it. 

Blue Springs won the "TaylorMade Flight" in Muskoka in 2014. In 2015 they qualified for the Florida finals, but finished out of the money and in 2016 they returned to the Florida finals and won it all for the first time in the club's history. 

“It was a lot of fun to spend a couple days with the team in Muskoka. It's a great way to wrap up the season and have some fun. The weather was fantastic and both courses were in amazing shape for the end of September,” Belletrutti added, noting that Bob Appleby was the only rookie on the squad, while Nowak, Graham and Alderman were part of last year’s winning team.

Third place went Emerald Hills (Gordon Beddome, Bill English, Rob Polan, William Lukewich and Lorne Kilman and professional Chris McNair) at 232, while Eagle Creek moved up from 11th into fourth at 231.

“It’s a wonderful, outstanding, great event,” says Gerry Beer, a rookie on the Greenhills team that found themselves dead last after day one and golf didn’t improve much on day two as they settled for second to last in their division. “I have had loads of fun. How can you beat the weather? It just feels like the best part of summer. I had never tried to qualify before, but I decided I wanted to give it a try this year to do something with the boys and now I can tell you that I will be trying to do it every year. It’s absolutely fantastic.”

The Sunday morning par-3 shootout staged on the short course at The Lake Joseph Club was very entertaining with 31 Members and seven pros in the field. After the elimination rounds, Josh Ayotte from National Pines took down Graham McCulloch from Glencairn in the shootout final on No. 1 of the short course, while Reilly Erwin, the Director of Operations at The Club at Bond Head won the pro division.

The final stage of the ClubLink Men’s Interclub Championship presented by WestJet for the Cluster Champions – Val des Lacs, Kanata, Country Club, King Valley, Caledon Woods, DiamondBack, Greystone, and Grandview – takes place in November in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at Heron Bay and TPC Eagle Trace.