A Smithers golfer is one of the top 10 juniors players in the country, after the national championships in Ontario at the beginning of August.
Kaleb Gorbahn finished seventh in the Canadian Junior Golf Association Mizuno National Junior Golf Championship in St. Catharines, Ontario, beating more than 100 other junior competitors.
“I got to the course and it fit me pretty well. I played really well the first day,” said Gorbahn.
“The second day wasn’t the best day; I struggled, just couldn’t do much with my approach shots and distance control. The last two days I played really solid throughout and was able to get in the top 10, which was my goal.”
According to Gorbahn, it was his strength as a long-ball hitter that helped him crack the top 10.
“I knew that I could use that to my advantage and use my driver a lot,” he said. “I did that fairly well the last couple of days and I drove the ball really well and was pretty far ahead of my competitor and was able to capitalize on those shots.”
But the four-day, 72-hole tournament had its challenges.
For Gorbahn, it was overcoming his frustrations with some of his less-than-perfect shots.
“I was pretty frustrated and got a little angry at times. After I finished my round on the second day, I told myself that I shouldn’t be angry. I was here for a good opportunity and was able to make the cut.”
“Going into the last two days, I went in with a different attitude and tried a different process and mindset going in and it carried onto the score,” he said.
Kaleb’s father and swing coach Dana said the tournament was a good learning experience for the young player.
“He has a tendency for aggressiveness, he’ll have it in his head that he needs to make a birdie. There are putts that you can’t make, and he’ll be too aggressive at trying to get it in the hole,” said Dana. “It was an important event for him, in his career. Learning and knowing that he needs to be patient and knowing good things will come.”
Stephen Nixon coached him in the North American Cup in early July and said Gorbahn has one of the best long games he’s seen from a junior in years.
“He’s got a very good swing that generates a lot of power off the tee which really benefits his game,” said Nixon. “His short game is just as good as his long game, but in terms of speed and hitting the long ball, he’s probably the best junior in that aspect that I’ve seen in a long time.”
To say that Gorbahn’s life revolves around golf is an understatement.
Even at the age of three, he would sit in his parents’ yard and hit golf balls all day from when his father went to work to when he came back.
The soon-to-be 18-year-old now sticks to a schedule that allows him to play golf as much as possible.
“I get up a 6 a.m., and I go and practice, go home for lunch, hang out with friends and then I come back around 5 p.m. and I’m out practicing again,” he said.
Gorbahn will start a new chapter in his life this fall after he received a scholarship to play golf at Holy Cross College at Notre Dame in Indiana.
“I’d always planned since the beginning of high school that I was going to play golf in the states. I’m just really excited to get out there and go on my own way,” he said.