A place for competitive golf
Ryan Dyck wears two golf hats on the Niagara Men’s Tour.
Along with Zach Halborg, the 29-year-old Welland native is the co-organizer of the five-event tour and he heads into the 2023 season as the top returning player.
Defending champion Kham Vong is taking a break from the tour to focus on over 50 events leaving Dyck as top dog.
The tour started in 2001 and judging by the recent qualifier at Rockway Vineyards, it is becoming more popular than ever.
“We had 51 guys signed up and we took the top 15. That is the biggest number we have had for the qualifier and we are really excited about that,” Dyck said. “We have a lot of new guys and talent, including guys from the Haldimand area which is awesome.”
Dyck feels the increased numbers are the result of the organizers trying to grow the tour plus Golf Ontario is awarding points from tournaments on the tour this year.
“I think word of mouth is what is mostly spreading it.”
He feels it is important to keep the tour going.
“It is a place for competitive golf to happen in Niagara and I think it is the only thing unless you are going to the provincial level,” said the former scholarship golfer at NCAA Division 2 (now Division 1) Lindenwood University in Missouri. “By the feedback we are getting from the golfers from Haldimand and even Hamilton, there’s not a lot of it even in other parts of Ontario.”
Dyck and Halborg are excited to see how the tour evolves.
“We want to keep increasing the talent pool. We have the majority of the great players in Niagara but there’s definitely a few that don’t play.”
He feels it is a good tour to be play on.
“It’s a good mix of camaraderie and competitiveness. Whenever everyone is out, there it is pretty competitive but everyone sticks around after and has some fun. It is the best of both worlds.”
Dyck, who placed 30th at last year’s Canadian mid amateur, likes what the tour does for his game.
“I like to play in the provincial and Golf Canada stuff as well and it’s great to be playing competitive golf in between those events. It keeps your game sharp and it is fun to get out there with all the local guys and see who is the best on any given day.”
As any competitive golfer knows, playing with your friends and competing in tournaments are whole different ballgames.
“It’s the aspect of having every shot count, there are no mulligans and having to play the ball where it lies. When you are out with your buddies, you don’t always play by the full rules of golf and having a place to do that on a regular basis is awesome. You can’t beat it.”
The majority of golfers on the Niagara tour have a handicap of seven or less.
“It is pretty good calibre. Last year, every event was under par for the winner except the final at Cherry Hill where we had some horrible weather to deal with.”
He loves playing competitive golf.
“One reason is to stay involved in athletics after it is no longer your main thing and you have a job. It is great to keep in that athletic mindset and keep being competitive. You don’t get that atmosphere and level of excitement doing anything else.”
The 2023 schedule includes: May 28 at Whirlpool Golf Course; July 9 and Twenty Valley Golf and Country Club: July 23 at Grand Niagara Golf Course; Aug. 27 at Port Colborne Country Club; and, the tour championship Sept.17 at Lookout Point Golf & Country Club, which will feature the top 40 players on the tour.
“We try to keep a similar rotation but we lost Cherry Hill last year and we wanted to add one so we added Twenty Valley and then we got Lookout Point instead of Cherry Hill,” Dyck said. “Lookout was really nice to get us in.”
Sponsors for the tour include Performance Restored, Vine Group Mortgages, Ryan Dyck Coldwell Banker Advantage, CC’s Dugout Italian Eatery, Niagara Golf Warehouse, Doug’s Meats and The Keg St. Catharines.
Rounding out the top 10 from last year’s tour were Niagara National’s Maric Brooks, Cherry Hill’s Jarret Chipman, Sawmill’s Mike Woodhouse, Rockway’s Jeffry Janz, Cherry Hill’s R.A. Derhodge, Rockway’s Mike Wiebe, St. Catharines’ Brandon McGregor; and, public player Hanish Nagrani.
Earning spots on this year’s tour at the qualifier were: Aidan Gavey 69; Brendan Canning 72; Daniel Klinck 78; Damien Stehling 78; Colin Buckborough 79; Bob Neilson 79; Tyler Edwards 80; Michael Adam 82; Hal Kerby 82; Matt DeCiccio 82; Ben Robinson 83; Ty Anderson 83; Brandon Gray 83; Dennis Fiander 84; Ross McBride 84; Pete Doyle 84; Nick Avgerinos 85; Aaron Constable 85; and, John Majerovic 85.