The coming week is one of Jarod Crane’s favourites of the year.
He gets to go up to Wasagaming, spend a lot of time with his family and compete in one of Westman’s premier golf tournaments. This year is the first time the Brandonite goes in as the defending champion of the Tamarack, now in it’s 81st year, but he’s not looking at the event any differently. Instead, he’s looking forward to playing some good rounds of golf and bonding with his family over the tournament again.
Crane and his brother P.J. are both in the men’s field — playing in qualifying groups with back-to-back tee times — while his father Paul is in the champions men’s event.
"It is basically a family affair," he said. "Everyone is up there for the week and everybody gets together for the rounds and you can talk about your rounds and go out for dinner or have a barbecue and just hang out and take it easy for the week."
While he’s expecting a good time, Crane is also excited about the chance to defend his title and feels prepared for the weeklong event that includes two rounds of stroke play followed by up to four more of match play.
Crane has played about once a week this year with over half his rounds at Clear Lake, which hosts the Tamarack, and he said the course is in the best shape he’s seen it in the last five to 10 years.
While Crane hasn’t played much in the last couple weeks, he believes he’s ready to take on the difficult task of just getting into the championship flight.
"I just looked at it (the draw) yesterday and all the names on it; it seems like it’s getting tougher and tougher each and every year," he said. "I think back to some of the scores five years ago compared to last year. Last year was tougher getting into the championship flight and it seems to be getting harder and harder.
"For the players who want to be in the championship flight, you’ve almost got to play a little bit conservative to keep the ball in play and not make any big mistakes so you have to fight back and shoot a decent score."
Last year, players needed a two-round total of 145 to make it into the championship flight, while a score 149 got golfers into a tiebreaker in 2012. Last year, a 149 would have put players in the bottom half of the first flight.
Once again, the men’s competition will feature 240 golfers, while the junior boys’ field increases from 38 to 40 and the junior girls’ event will have seven. Steven Young of LaSalle and Bobbi Uhl of Erickson will both look to defend their junior titles.
The women’s event has shrunk from 48 to 40 golfers and is wide open. Kaitlin Troop, Sarah Stebeleski and Pam Burneski, who have combined to win the last nine Tamarack titles, are not in the field and no golfer in the event has won the competition before.
Meanwhile, the senior men’s division has split into two events this year to encourage older golfers who wanted to play more to advance an age group and let more younger players enter the men’s event. The new champion men’s event will feature 32 golfers who will play two rounds of qualifying — Friday and Monday — before being flighted in groups of 16 for match play. The senior men’s event will remain at one round of qualifying and flights of eight players.
The seniors’ event has 51 golfers. Defending senior champion Mark Starodub, who’s from Selkirk, is playing in the men’s event.
JUNIORS: The Westman Junior Golf Tour wrapped up on Tuesday at Oak Island. Brandon’s Kolby Day won the Group A (16-to-18-year-old) title, while Russell’s Braden Clement took the Group B (15-year-old) crown.
Sebastian Streu of Belmont won the Group C (14-year-old) event, while Ben McCartney of MacDonald claimed the Group D (13 and under) title.
CHIP SHOTS: Minnedosa is putting on a mixed golf tournament on Saturday. Call the club for more details … Souris’s two-person 999 event will also take place on Saturday. Call the club for more information … Carberry is putting on a two-person scramble on Sunday and its Senior Women’s Open on Wednesday. Call the club for more details … Killarney is putting on its Ladies’ Fall Open on Aug. 21, followed by its Men’s Fall Classic on Aug. 24. Contact the club at 204-523-8277 … Dauphin’s Senior Mixed Tournament also goes Aug. 21. Call the pro shop at 204-638-9400 … MacGregor is hosting a Ladies’ Open on Aug. 23 and a Junior Open on Aug. 24. Call the club for details … The Clear Lake Ladies’ Classic will be held Aug. 25. The cost of the tournament is $94, including cart rental. Call Pat at 204-848-7497 … The Brandon Sun/Taurus Golf Mother and Daughter Tournament is looking for entries. The event will be held on Sept. 7 at Northern Pines. The cost is $25 per team. To enter, send an email to Marlene Fitzsimmons at email@example.com.