For homegrown professional golfer Greg Machtaler, it’s nothing short of a dream come true.
The 32-year-old Machtaler will be in the field when Kelowna hosts its first ever MacKenzie Canadian PGA Tour event this spring at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf and Country Club.
The GolfBC Championship is set for June 6 to 12 and will feature many of the game’s best up-and-coming players, chasing a prize purse of $175,000.
“It always been kind of a dream of mine to have a big event like this in the Okanagan and always wondered why we haven’t had one before,” said Machtaler, who grew up in Summerland and now lives in Kelowna. “It’s such a golf-mad community, we have fantastic golf courses and it just seems like a great destination, especially a PGA Tour Canada event. I’m really excited.”
After several years in the works, the MacKenzie Tour Thursday announced a four-year deal to stage the GolfBC Championship at Gallagher’s in Kelowna.
With events already being played Vancouver and Victoria, MacKenzie Tour president Jeff Monday said Kelowna provided an ideal addition to the tour calendar in B.C.
“We wanted to add a third site and people told us, ‘You’ve got to go to Kelowna, they’re golf crazy, they love the sport, there are great golf courses there and it’s a great, thriving community,’ ” Monday said. “A lot of people got on board, including a title sponsor (GolfBC) getting behind it, and here we are.
“We’re only here for a week,” he added, “but hopefully the impact of it will be felt for the other 51 weeks of the year.”
The MacKenzie Canadian PGA Tour is an important stepping stone for young professional golfers, many of whom—including Canadians Graham Delaet, Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin—go on to successful PGA careers.
Machtaler, who received a sponsor’s exemption to play in the tournament, said fans should be pleasantly surprised with the caliber of golf they’ll see over the course of four days in June.
“It’s as high level golf as you can imagine,” said Machtaler who won on the Canadian PGA Tour in 2014 in Ottawa. “Honestly there are guys on this tour who are going to be stars on the PGA Tour in the future. You’re going to see amazing golf and you’re going to see great guys, great ambassadors for golf.”
As for the host club, Gallagher’s Canyon general manager Peter Hopley expects the course staff will have the picturesque 6,802-yard layout in its best condition ever for the start of the tournament.
Hopley regards a Canadian PGA Tour event as an excellent fit for Kelowna and the surrounding area.
“It’s such a great town, we think to host this event, because it isn’t too big and people will take a lot of pride in it,” Hopley said. “I think that’s the recipe, is to get the community that really supports it locally, then that combined with our tourists and our reach of our surrounding area of 180,000 will be huge.
“I know other golf courses are very excited to have it here, and we as club professionals are excited about it.”
As with all MacKenzie Tour events, raising money for a local charity is a priority.
At the Golf BC Championship, funds will be raised to benefit the BC Cancer Foundation.
“We know the funds from this tournament will go a long way in supporting the life-saving research taking place at the BC Cancer Agency, giving hope to over 26,000 British Columbians who will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone,” said Lou Del Gobbo, Interim President & CEO, BC Cancer Foundation.
For more information on GolfBC, visit www.golfbc.com.
For more information on the MacKenzie Tour, see the Facebook page at Facebook.com/MckenzieTour.