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Family ties at the city high-school golf championship

The golf influence of family, whether that be in the form of an accomplished older sibling, or perhaps parents who enjoy their time on the course, was evident on Thursday as SDSSAA (Sudbury District Secondary School Association) managed to squeeze in a city championship in a year which will likely feature no more than a small handful of banners handed out.

Not benefitting from quite the same distance as his older brother (Alex), Ben Fowke still managed to duplicate the SDSSAA boys golf crown that the former snagged in 2016, despite taking a different approach - figuratively, and literally.

"It was sort of a so-so day for my ball striking, but I scrambled really well on up and downs for either par or birdie," said the 16 year-old tournament champ. "It was tough conditions, with winter rules, given how wet the fairways were."

"I was playing, obviously, for the middle of the fairway, but if it missed left or right a little bit, I wasn't that upset, because I knew that I was either hitting the fairway or getting a good lie in the rough."

"Being in the rough often gave me a better chance to approach the green," said Fowke, who finished at two over par 73 at the Lively Golf Club, one shot better than Vince Palladino (St Benedict), and four up on Johnny Svalina (Lo-Ellen).

Coming off a summer of tournament play, Fowke actually benefitted heavily from a September outing in which success was hard to find. "I just finished my last MJT (Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour) event a few weeks ago," he noted.

"I had a rough time there, putting at Grey Silo (Waterloo), with the aerated greens - but it really helped me today, because they were also aerated at Lively. It really helped me in the five to ten foot range, just to judge where the ball would go."

As for the similarities between he and his brother, now in his freshman year with the Ranger College Rangers in Texas, Fowke acknowledged that their respective skill-sets, on the links, are clearly not identical.

"Out of the two of us, he is definitely more of a long ball hitter with a pretty good touch on the green," said Ben. "I might be a little more consistent with the driver. I've almost beaten him a couple of times, so I've almost reached his level."

"Our games are slightly different, but not that much."

The same might be said for girls champion and Lockerby Composite junior Grace Crowder and her family.

First introduced to the sport by her parents, the 15 year-old has clearly been influenced by both her father, Todd (1985 SDSSAA boys golf champion - Sudbury Secondary), as well as her mother, Colleen Kutchaw, one of the top women golfers at the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club.

"The only reason that I went out this week was because they wanted me to; I haven't golfed since this tournament last year," said Crowder with a laugh.

Truth be told, she absolutely enjoys her time on the course, and with a handful of golfing friends also heading off to Lively, it really did not take a whole lot of convincing for her to attend.

"I was excited to go, because all of my friends were going, and they had golfed all summer," said Crowder. "And my practice round and tryouts went well on Monday."

As it turns out, things went even better, come championship day, as Crowder finished with a score of 97, one shot clear of Emily Dambremont of St Benedict.

"To be honest, I did not think I was going to win," said the girls' champion, who follows in the footsteps of Lockerby winners Hannah Nykilchyk, Lauren Langille, Erin Suosalo, Justine Gelinas, Kate Somek and Lisa Noble.

"I thought I did well, hitting it off the tee; I was getting it pretty far. My short game isn't great, but I was getting on the green between one and three shots, almost every time, so it gave me some room in case I messed up my putting."

From a team perspective, Crowder combined with Sydney Coe, Kaija Beljo and Charlie Herold to bring the female aggregate banner home to Lockerby, while Palladino, Jake Dubowsky, Joseph Colasimone and Keenan Castle did the same for the St Benedict boys.

Orendorff and Associates