Smithers’ Adam Veenstra is one of the youngest people to win the men’s open in Prince George with a narrow victory over his older competitors in July.
“After I almost blew that eight-shot lead, I couldn’t say I was happy, I was more relieved,” said 16-year-old Veenstra. “I couldn’t say I was happy for the first hour after winning after not playing that well in the final round. But looking back on it, I’m pretty happy about it.”
Veenstra dominated the first half of the Aberdeen Glen Golf Course Men’s Open shooting seven birdies and four under in the first round and two under in the second round.
However, it was in the final round that Veenstra almost blew an eight-shot lead.
“I was six under going into it. I think I played defensively and was almost scared to blow that eight-shot lead. So I ended up shooting six over in the final round, which wasn’t great,” he said. “I was thinking too much about winning rather than playing my own game.”
Despite the close win, Veenstra is looking at it as a learning experience.
“I learned a lot, mostly mentally, preparing for those situations better and I feel the more you get in those pressure situations, the better you’ll get and the more you’ll learn and continue to succeed,” he said.
His younger brother, Joel and father Tim also competed in the tournament finishing first and eighth in the flight below Adam.
“[Adam] was driving the ball really well off the tee and kept the ball in play,” said Tim. “He didn’t get into too much trouble and had some really good putts.”
This isn’t the first tournament he has won.
He also took home a trophy during the junior tournament at the Northview Golf and Country Club in Vancouver earlier this summer.
Chris Herkel, head golf pro at the Smithers Golf and Country Club, has coached Veenstra for years and said he has a strong understanding of the game.
“He just has the right temperament for golf, he doesn’t get excited, plays within himself and he knows how to play the game,” said Herkel. “He knows what his strengths are and he plays to his strength. It’s a huge attribute to be able to do that.”
Herkel believes the young athlete and his brother have a bright golf future ahead of them.
“He’s a role model for juniors that know him and watch him play on the golf course. They’re just starting out and they see someone like Adam, they look at him and hope they will one day play like him,” he said.
“It’ll be a great future for him.”
Roughly 120 golfers from around the province including Vanderhoof, Fort St. John, Quesnel and Williams Lake participated in this year’s tournament from July 25-27.