Gifted golfers from across the country – including three Kahnawa’kehró:non – hit the links at the Kanawaki Golf Club this week for the Canadian regional championships of the Notah Begay III (NB3) Junior Golf National Championship.
Locals Tehorahkwaneken Gary Albany, Dalton Kane, and Tahoia’tenhtonhne Kirby competed in the boys’ 16-18 division.
“This tournament is going to have a huge impact on the next generation for golf,” said Albany, fresh off a gold medal in golf at the 2023 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).
While Albany was disappointed with his results in the tournament, shooting an 80 and a 76 to finish in the middle of the pack, he was uplifted by the chance to play tournament golf in the community.
“This means a lot to me. It’s a really great experience,” said Albany. “I’m really grateful because there’s a lot of people out there who wish they could play in this.”
Kane tied with Albany for 20th place, while Kirby shot an 84 and 83, finishing 29th out of 34 golfers in the July 31 to August 1 tournament.
“We had three solid local players this year, but I was hoping we’d have a few more,” said Robbie Oroniakehte Dickson, who co-owns the NB3 tournament and is chief executive officer of Dickson Golf, which sponsored the event. “Next year I expect to have double or triple that.”
Having children is what made him begin to see the need to revive Junior golf in the community, he said, so when he had the opportunity to partner with Notah Begay III, an Indigenous professional golfer for whom NB3 is named, he jumped on it.
“I said, ‘Why don’t I bring it to Canada?’ Notah’s been playing here two years now in the Kateri Memorial, and he loves Kahnawake, and we said this would be a perfect venue to hold a qualifying tournament for his world championships.”
Brett Dearhouse, who served as assistant tournament director for the event, said he didn’t have the opportunity to play locally in a tournament like this when he was younger.
“I really wish I did,” he said. “It’s really important that we have an event like this in town.”
He said that while Kahnawake is usually associated with hockey and lacrosse, there is plenty of homegrown golf talent.
“We’re really trying to push for diversity in golf and get Indigenous players in the golf competitive circuit and hopefully get noticed and climb their way up the rankings and hopefully get a Division 1 scholarship,” said Dearhouse.
Among the highlights of the tournament, an 11-year-old Toronto golfer, Riviera Lindholm, shot a jaw-dropping 74, a score that would make many professional golfers blush.
“Kahnawake is a golf town,” said Chellie Goodleaf, who joined the fun as a spectator. “We love a good tournament, and this one was exceptional. My hope is to see Junior girls from Kahnawake pick up the sport.”
The NB3 National Championships will be held on Indigenous territory at Koasati Pines Golf Club at Coushatta in Kinder, Louisiana. The girls will compete November 9-11 and the boys will compete November 4-6.
Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative reporter
Marcus is managing editor of The Eastern Door, where he has been reporting since 2021 on issues that matter to Kahnawake and Kanesatake. He was previously editor-in-chief of The Link and a contributing editor at Our Canada magazine.