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Gamester excited to start competitive season

Steve Gamester works on his putting Wednesday before a round at Avondale Golf Course in preparation for the Avondale Open. “Hopefully the putter is more than warm this weekend and I see some balls drop to the bottom of the hole,” he said.
Steve Gamester works on his putting Wednesday before a round at Avondale Golf Course in preparation for the Avondale Open. “Hopefully the putter is more than warm this weekend and I see some balls drop to the bottom of the hole,” he said.

VERNON RIVER, P.E.I. – Steve Gamester is looking forward to renewing friendships today and seeing where his game is early in the golf season.

The Charlottetown resident will hit the course Saturday for the opening round of the two-day Avondale Open. It is the first stop on the tour to determine Prince Edward Island’s amateur player of the year.

“It’s kind of a big family,” Gamester said. “It’s going to be good to see everybody you haven’t seen all winter.”

The field of 39 golfers includes six women. The first group begins play today at 10 a.m.

Gamester said this weekend would be a good measuring stick of where his game is as the competitive golf season begins. The wet start to the spring has resulted in less practice time, said the Avondale and Fox Meadow golfer.

“You’re kind of playing between raindrops,” Gamester said, adding he is hopeful the nice weather from earlier this week will welcome golfers to the Vernon River course.

“It’s exciting. It’s the start of a brand new season.”

Gamester was only 12 or 13 years old when he started playing the sport on Sundays in Summerside with his father, Alan, and uncles Dennis Pidgeon and Garth Wall. After playing through the junior program, Gamester got involved in the competitive golf tour.

“Initially, it was a cheap way to play other golf courses when I was younger. It was a lot of value for the dollar.”

Getting to know the golfers and measuring his own game against others has kept him involved in the tour for about 20 years.

Gamester hasn’t won a tour stop yet, but he finished second at the Avondale Open two years ago and won the club championship there in 2016. He said the tour has a talented field of golfers.

“Anybody that’s hot, and has a hot putter that week, can win,” he said. “I just kind of go with the mindset, you go play one shot at a time and add it up at the end and kind of see where you finish.”

The key at Avondale for Gamester is keeping the ball in play.

“A lot of people try to force drivers on holes that aren’t really needed. You’re better off leaving yourself a longer approach shot and keeping it in play.”

The tour points are also used to select Prince Edward Island’s golfers for the Atlantic Cup, which used to be known as the Mel Murray Maritime Cup. Each of the four Atlantic provinces has a 12-member men’s team competing for provincial bragging rights.

“The points are extremely important this year because the Atlantic Cup is off to Newfoundland,” said Tim Yorke, who organizes the Island squad.

P.E.I. won last year’s championship in Summerside. This year’s tournament is at the Bally Haly course in St. John’s, N.L., Sept. 22-24.

“I think that's what a lot of people are really fighting for,” said Gamester, who was on the team two years ago but not in 2016.

Avondale Open

Today’s draw for the opening round of the Avondale Open.

Steve Gamester takes some practice swings at the driving range at Avondale Golf Course on Wednesday.

10 a.m. – Mark McKenna and Jeremy Stevenson.
10:10 a.m. – Jeremy Brown, Scott Morton and Steven Gamster.
10:20 a.m. – Brodie McGregor, Paul Gormley and Marty Koughan.
10:30 a.m. – Tim Yorke, Stephen Anderson and Adam Gallant.
10:40 a.m. – Tommy Schurman, Ronnie Dennis and Martin O'Brien.
10:50 a.m. – Jeff Hughes, Curtis Martell and Anthony Warren.
11 a.m. – Curtis Hall, Tyler Murphy and Ricky Knockwood.
11:10 a.m. – Starter.
11:20 a.m. – Sherry White, Melissa Castle and Brenda McIlwaine.
11:30 a.m. – Fiona Thompson, Chris MacLauchlan and Sue Allen.
11:40 a.m. – George Stewart and Charlie O'Brien.
11:50a.m. – Rick Arsenault, Bobby Savidant and John Creamer.
Noon – Grant Somers, Matthew Bowlan and Leonard Doyle.
12:10 p.m. – Leigh Adams, Norm Platt and Kennie MacWilliams.
12:20 p.m. – Darren Martell and Cameron King.

Previous winners

A look at the last 10 men’s championship at the Avondale Open.

2016 Jason Campbell 

2015 Greg MacAulay

2014 Tim Yorke

2013 Martin O'Brien

2012 Tim Yorke

2011 Greg MacAulay

2010 Tim Yorke

2009 Chris Welton

2008 Chris Welton

2007 Tim Yorke

2006 Chris Welton

2005 Mike Fortier

Did you know?

Golfers earn points for the men’s amateur player of the year award through their results at six golf tournaments.

Looking back

Tour’s 2016 final results.

Jason Campbell        360

Tim Yorke                  275

Anthony Warren      270

Brodie MacGregor   240

Jeff Hughes               190

Martin O’Brien         185

Curtis Hall                 140

Paul Gormley            117.5

Darren Martell          117.5

Curtis Martell              115

Looking ahead

Here are the 2017 tour stops:

Avondale              Today-Sunday      Avondale

Mill River Open     June 17-18           Mill River

PEIGA Amateur**  July 14-16            Stanhope

Stanhope Open     Aug. 4-6             Stanhope

Island Open            Aug. 19-20         Belvedere

Harvest Moon        Aug. 26-27         Brudenell/Dundarave

** The amateur is worth twice as many points.

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