Thomas Drew is not one to toot his own horn, but the young man from Campbell River has been tearing up the links this summer at the Sunnydale Golf Club in Courtenay.
Drew captured his second consecutive men’s club championship late-July, and followed with a win at the Men’s Tillicum, which dates back to 1933.
“It’s the oldest tournament in the Comox Valley. It’s very prestigious,” Sunnydale president Dave Stevens said. “He’s a phenom.”
At the end of play at this year’s club championship, Drew had tied with perennial champion Greg Koster with a two-day total of 139. He birdied the first hole of a sudden death playoff to win the title. The previous year, he shot 136. Koster was again second with 137.
At the Tillicum, Drew shot 65 in the first round, and 69 in the second round for a 134 total — six strokes better than Koster, who was runner-up.
It’s tempting to picture Drew knocking a ball over a water hazard before the age of two, à la Tiger Woods, but the graduate of Timberline Secondary in Campbell River didn’t take up the game until age 12. He became proficient around 15 or 16, and started to compete in men’s tournaments up and down the island.
“I never really had an actual coach, but lots of people helped me along the way,” Drew said, noting Koster is among those people. “Played in provincials for the junior and the men’s division. A couple years ago I was on the men’s zone (6) team.”
Drew works in the pro shop at Sunnydale. Though not a coach, per se, he recently taught Stevens how to get out of a bunker.
“I’ve been in a few bunkers since that time, and I’m just popping them out like crazy,” Stevens said.
Drew finished in the top 20 last year at the B.C. Junior Boys’ Championship. He made the cut this year, but wasn’t happy with his score.
He is, however, happy with his overall play of late.
“My putting’s been good. Driving is usually my strong suit. But I got the putting together, which is the biggest thing. It doesn’t matter if you hit all the fairways. If you can’t chip and putt, it doesn’t really matter…Probably one thing I’d want to work on is my overall consistency.”
Drew doesn’t invest much thought in his game when playing a regular round. He might hit 70 balls on an average day. Come tournament time, he practises a bit more on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the competition begins Saturday.
“It’s meant to be fun, first and foremost,” Drew said. “When I am competing, I’m still having lots of fun, but it’s a different mindset.
“One thing Greg (Koster) taught me, it’s hard to keep your game perfect, or what you think is perfect, at your best point for a long time. I’ve taken to that. After a tournament, I might take Monday or Tuesday off, then get back into practising. Last year, I didn’t allow that to happen. I got burnt out, and my results suffered from that.”
In order to practice properly, he doesn’t see the need to play for several hours a day.
“If you go out and practice with a purpose, then you get a lot more done. It’s making use of your time.”
Drew will be moving to Victoria in September. He plans to find a job, possibly join the Gorge Vale Golf Club, and compete at some qualifiers for tournaments next spring.
“I’m going to pursue golf a little bit further, see where I can go with it.”