By James Rose

Special to the Pioneer

The Columbia Valley is home to nine championship calibre golf courses. The valley is a golfers delight and is visited from people all over the world to experience the stunning courses offering mountain views and clean crisp air. And what more could a golfer ask for, one may wonder? But not only does the valley offer an outstanding golf experience, it also is home to top tier talent in the way of golf course head professionals.

The PGA of British Columbia Professional Development Program presented by Sunice and Bobby Jones is an annual Order of Merit designed to recognize members of the PGA of B.C. who have shown tremendous contributions to the B.C. PGA, the industry, and most importantly themselves.

This year, six of the valleys head pros placed in the BC PGAs Top 100 Professionals of 2016 (out of close to 400 eligible individuals). And of those six, Copper Point Golf Club claimed four. Brian Schaal placed 4th, Casey Johnson 17th, Scott McClain 22nd, and Bryan Armstrong 44th. Dale Moore of Windermere Valley Golf Course placed 83rd and Fairmont Hot Springs Golfs Jeremy Johnson 94th.

Through the course of the year, each demonstrated involvement in every aspect of the development program, including tournaments, education, industry engagement, and volunteerism. And since most of the events and opportunities available to B.C.s head golf pros take place in the Lower Mainland, cracking the top 100 (and top 10 in Mr. Schaals case) is all the more difficult and impressive.

Having all of [Copper Points] pros in the top 100 is important to me because it shows the guys want to be active in their career and continually improve their skills and community involvement, said Mr. Schaal. We aim to operate a facility committed to providing a higher end of service when it comes to outreach, education and professionalism, and with our professionals placing where they did in the top 100, I think it attests to that commitment we make.

For Fairmonts Jeremy Johnson, the program is designed in way that aligns nicely with goals that pros should aim for anyways. The whole idea is if you are trying to advance yourself professionally then there is a great chance you will crack the top 100, said Mr. Johnson. And if you dont think of it that way it is also a good goal for a pro to set by aiming to crack the top 100 or top 50 or you name it for each year.

To place where I did this year, adds Mr. Johnson, it ultimately came down to my volunteerism. And I am glad that in awarding points to pros, volunteering in the community counts because that is a big part of the job of being a head professional in the sport of golf.

As challenging as it can be to attend the events and tournaments necessary for the winning of points, I think it says something about the level of professionalism and passion for the job that we have as many Columbia Valley pros in the top 100 as we do, said Mr. Schaal. And if I am not mistaken, its even more impressive that each of us improved our placing from last year as well.