Don’t be surprised if Wil Bateman shares a little extra time on the ninth hole at the Glendale Golf and Country Club, home of the Mackenzie Tour Syncrude Oil Country Championship presented by AECON.
If Wil sees young golfing fans, he might tap them on the shoulder. Or, autograph a golf ball. Or, offer a few words of encouragement.
Because he knows what his actions can lead to.
Wil, 22, returns to the Glendale this weekend to play in the Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada event and returns to the golf course where he grew up as a kid.
Wil especially remembers the 2006 Telus Edmonton Open at the Glendale when he was 10 years old.
“I was actually helping out with the scoring,” Wil said, comfortably sitting on a couch in the Glendale lobby Wednesday. “I would take the score card from the ninth green to the guys that were putting in the scores and then bring it back to the players.
“I remember them signing golf balls for me and that’s my first special memory.”
The experience inspired him to become a professional. “I spent a lot of time here and I always knew I wanted to play professional golf.”
After completing Grade 10 at St. Francis Xavier in Edmonton’s west end, Wil took Grades 11 and 12 online to focus on golf.
He then attended San Diego State University.
Success on the links came fast. Last October in Santiago, Chile, he sizzled a 24-under 264 to win the PGA Latinoamérica. And, here’s what’s so impressive: he won the event — with a 67 final round — only six starts into his pro career.
But he isn’t sitting on his laurels. On the day we met, he came from the putting green where he spends hours and hours.
He knows a good putt on one hole gives him confidence at the next tee box.
"Every week I think the most important part is to handle yourself mentally," he says.
“Most of the time, it’s easy to say, but it’s tough to do when you’re in the real moment.”
In his bio on pga.com, Wil says his dream foursome would include Rory McIlroy, his brother and Tiger Woods.
Imagine them playing at the Glendale. And, right after they walk off the ninth green posing for a picture.
Through two rounds, Wil is tied for 14th after shooting a 66 on Friday.
The Oil Country Championship runs through Sunday. For more information, visit oilcountrychampionship.com.
CHIP SHOTS ...
•Glendale members still can golf during the event, just not at their home course. With the co-operation of six other golf courses, Glendale members can book times to play elsewhere. The six courses are The Edmonton Country Club, Edmonton Petroleum Club and the Windermere Golf and Country Club — all clubs who will host the Oil Country Championship, plus the Royal Mayfair Golf Club, Highlands Golf Club and Blackhawk Golf Club. Each club has given the Glendale 10 tee times a day during this week’s event.
•Glendale General Manager Craig Rusnak is staying at the golf course throughout the tournament in a holiday trailer and is up early cooking breakfast for Course Superintendent Chris Prodahl and the Course Mechanic Joel Quigley. So, how many hours is he working these days? Craig chuckles. “I don’t think the labour board would want to know.”
•Among the countless volunteers at the Oil Country Championship is Dave Fowler who is helping out in the media centre. Dave has shared hundreds of thousands of hours over many decades for 630 CHED’s Santas Anonymous.
(Email questions, comments, suggestions to email@example.com)