HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
For the past three winters, Isaiah and Atlas Ibit fine tuned their golf skills at the Ottawa Athletic Club. But when the club closed in September and the pandemic shut down other indoor centres, the brothers were stymied.
But a solution was found as mom and dad came to the rescue. With travel plans to the United States also cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions, the family purchased a SkyTrak golf simulator to give their junior golfers a Merry Christmas.
But how does someone use a golf simulator and swing clubs inside a house? Janet Ibit, the boys’ mother, stepped up and gave permission for the seldom-used dining room, which has a nine-foot ceiling, to be converted into an indoor golfing station.
Isaiah and Atlas simply faced the golf program on the television screen and hit balls off a large green mat into a wide, eight-foot-high net, which had plenty of protective padding and cushions behind it.
For its first season, only one ball was hit out of bounds. Only one shot out of thousands of shots taken by Isaiah and Atlas travelled too high and put a hole in the ceiling. Not sure what the golf ruling would be about that one.
For five months, Isaiah and Atlas used the golf simulator every other day to improve their skills before they could experience the real game on local and regional golf courses, when they opened in April and May.
At last weekend’s Ottawa Valley Golf Association junior medal-play championships at eQuinelle Golf Club on Saturday and Pakenham Highlands Golf Club on Sunday, the Ibit brothers benefited from their winter training to become champions.
“It helped a lot,” said Isaiah, who earned his first OVGA title, after being a two-time runner-up. The Greyhawk Golf Club member posted a four-over-par 147 from rounds of 75 and 72, the best low-gross score among juveniles and older juniors.
Isaiah was three-under par after his first 12 holes in his Sunday round, but marked bogey on the 13th hole and quadruple bogey nine on the 14th, when he hit two balls out of bounds. But he birdied the 16th hole, which was a key to his title.
Rivermead’s Samuel Kimmerly had a hot spell in his second round, scoring an eagle and two birdies from the ninth through the 14th holes. But he bogeyed three of the final four holes to place second in boys’ juvenile at 76-72-148.
Playing from closer tee boxes, Atlas had five birdies and seven bogeys in his 36 holes as he won the boys’ bantam championship with a score of two-over 72-71-143. Rowan MacDonald of Hautes Plaines Golf Club was second at 79-76-155.
“My short game was really good both days. On the first day, I chipped in twice, and I almost had a hole-in-one,” said Atlas, who added the golf simulator allowed him to better understand golf yardage.
Atlas is now a three-time OVGA champion, having won the peewee title the last two seasons.
Ty Rouse, a public golfer, shot a five-over-par 76-72-148 to win the boys’ junior title, while Sammy Callan of Golf Canada Club was second at 72-78-150. Rouse and Kimmerly tied for second place in the boys’ overall.
Dawson Lew of the Wyndance Golf Club in Uxbridge, ON., was the boys’ peewee champion, a six-over-par 73-72-145, and Jerome Chase of Royal Ottawa was runner-up, a 10-over 77-72-149.
Avery Mack of Royal Ottawa used rounds of 82 and 78 for a 19-over-par 160 to win the girls’ junior title ahead of Rivermead’s Julia Pelletier, who carded rounds of 83-84-167.
Lauren Gervais, a public golfer, had the best low-gross score of the girls’ junior and juvenile golfers, a 10-over-par 79-72-151, which allowed her to capture the juvenile crown. Antonia Ho of Kanata Golf and Country Club was second at 78-78-156.
The girls’ bantam title was won by Carlee Meilleur of the Loyalist Golf and Country Club at nine-over-par 77-73-150. Avery Nordman of the Canadian Golf and Country Club was second at 82-74-156.
Sanvi Srivastava of the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club was the lone entry in the girls’ peewee division. She shot rounds of 105 and 91 for a 196 total.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.