by Dwayne Tingley
The timing could not be better for the Royal Oaks Golf Club.
Royal Oaks has been selected to host the 2020 RBC Dominion Securities New Brunswick Men’s Amateur Championship in the midst of the club’s 20th anniversary celebrations.
Blehr MacKinley, the PGA of Canada Atlantic head professional at Royal Oaks, said the tournament fits the club’s plan to raise its profile as it marks its landmark anniversary.
“We are renewing our efforts to tell people that we are here for public players and competitive tournaments,” MacKinley said. “We have a lot to showcase with the outstanding course, beautiful clubhouse and dining and the hospitality of our membership.”
“This tournament comes in our 20th year,” he continued. “It comes as we remind people that this is not a private club and we want as many people as possible to be aware of everything we have to offer.”
Originally schedule for the Mactaquac Golf Course, the venue change for the 2020 RBC Dominion Securities NB Men’s Amateur Championship was brought about pro-actively following conversations with Mactaquac and its management team.
Golf New Brunswick Executive Director Tyson Flinn said that despite the association’s disappointment in moving the event from the Mactaquac Golf Course, Golf NB is pleased that Royal Oaks was able to step up to host the 54-hole championship, scheduled for July 10-12, 2019.
“The Mactaquac Golf Course is, and will continue to be, one of the province’s premier championship venues,” Flinn said. However, the club and its management group from Kingwood Golf reached out to Golf NB in the fall following a review of the course’s green complexes and indicated that weather damage over the past few years could limit their ability to ensure the quality of putting surface needed to host the event in 2020.
“I cannot say enough about the professionalism, proactive nature and respect demonstrated by the Mactaquac Golf Course and its management towards the New Brunswick Men’s Amateur Championship,” added Flinn, noting that the association hopes to return the even to Mactaquac in the near future.
“Despite having to move the (championship), we were extremely fortunate to secure another top-notch venue in the Royal Oaks Golf Club.”
MacKinley is hoping for a kind winter, but also said superintendent Kevin Wentzell will have the 6,600-yard ready for championship play.
“All of our members and our staff are proud of this property, so we’ll be ready to host a memorable tournament, especially a tournament with such a great history as the New Brunswick Men’s Amateur.”
“We are sure this is going to be great for everyone involved as we mark our 20th anniversary in style. The course is going to be in great shape.”
Director of club operations Esmond Clouthier said Royal Oaks is “excited to host the best players” from New Brunswick.
“Our course is going to give these top players and very good test,” Clouthier said. “We are going to show that we can host a major tournament like this, and we’ll be looking to host more in the future.
“We’re also going to show the players a tough, but fair golf course,” he added. “I think we’ll see increased activity as word of mouth will help us. We’ll see a lot of these top players come back to play the course long after the tournament is over.”
Simon Richard, who finished 12th at last year’s RBC Dominion Securities NB Men’s Amateur Championship in Edmundston and was the highest-placing player from Royal Oaks, said “it’s an honour to host such a prestigious tournament at his home course.”
“It’s going to be a great test for the players,” said Richard, whose personal best score in 67 on the par-72 layout.
“You have to make your putts,” Richard said. “You can spray the ball a little, but you won’t be able to score well unless you make your putts. We should see some low scores with such an impressive field, but no one will go low unless they putt well.”
Richard, a 23-year-old economic development agent with Opportunities New Brunswick in Moncton, said Royal Oaks will be “the perfect place to host the Amateur.”
“On and off the course,” he said, “the players are going to be complimenting Royal Oaks. They are going to be impressed.”
“With Royal Oaks set to celebrate their 20th anniversary, we could not think of a better way for them to mark such an occasion than by hosting one of Atlantic Canada’s premiere Amateur Championships,” Flinn said.