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Mayo repeats at Indigenous Championship

Courtesy Golf Quebec

Warmups at the driving range were going well for Josh Mayo at the second annual Golf Quebec Indigenous Championship on Tuesday. 

But then he went to the putting green.

“Right off the bat, I knew the putter I had in my bag was not the putter for me that day,” he said.

He asked his fiancée to go back home and get his bag of putters so he could pick one that felt better. Despite the forgiving features of modern models, Mayo went with an old Jack Nicklaus blade putter from the 1960s, one that makes you use your wrists.

“I ended up putting with that and winning with that,” he said. “It goes to show you $500-600 putters are not always the right choice.”

Mayo has now won the Men’s Amateur division in both years of the annual championship, just one of three provincial Indigenous championships in Canada. 

Both years of Golf Quebec’s Indigenous tournament have taken place at Kanawaki Golf Club, giving Kahnawa’kehró:non a chance to compete in a major amateur tournament right here in town. Nearly 50 amateur golfers from across Quebec competed across four divisions.

“We’re excited. We want to invite more participants for the next editions, and we’ll keep on working hard to reach out to all the golfers,” said Golf Quebec tournament coordinator Samuel Chainay, who noted the majority of competitors were from Kahnawake this year.

“We’re going to make it a goal to try and push it more during the winter to have even more participation,” said Sandrine Bigras, tournament director with Golf Quebec, who said despite a better turnout than last year, the organization would like to grow the tournament.

“We’re so welcomed by Kanawaki, but people don’t know about it,” she said.

Bigras hopes to see a national Indigenous competition sanctioned by Golf Canada one day, but this would require more provinces to create Indigenous tournaments, she said.

However, the Golf Quebec Indigenous Championship is indexed, according to Chainay, so golfers can earn points affecting their Golf Quebec ranking.

“It was an honour to be playing in this tournament,” said Nelva Diabo, who golfed alongside Arlene Horne for the second year in a row in the Women’s Senior division.

“The day’s beautiful, the course is absolutely beautiful,” said Diabo. “However, I hit every sand trap, every ditch, every hazard. But it was a wonderful experience.”

Horne had a similar report about her outing.

“This last hole was a disaster, but the thing is we played well, she gave me tips, and it’s just a pleasure to be out,” said Horne.

“I’m not a big golfer, but this is lovely. When do you get a chance to play Kanawaki?”

The other Kahnawa’kehró:non winners were Traci Martin with an 83 (+9) in the Women’s Amateur division and Toddy Phillips with an 83 (+13) in the Men’s Senior division.

Mayo finished at the top of the Men’s Amateur standings with a 68 (-2) on the day.

To Mayo, competitive golf is completely different than playing with friends.

“The whole point of tournament golf is to limit your mistakes and to take advantage of your good shots – to know when to play it safe and when to go for it,” he said.

“I knew what I had to do because I’ve been there, I’ve done it. I knew I had to make pars and let them try to beat me.”

He played alongside Brett Dearhouse, who kept him on his toes till the 12th hole, where Dearhouse quadruple bogeyed, leading to a third-place finish on the day for him with a 74 (+4).

Mayo, an experienced golfer who plays in other amateur tournaments in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada and in the US, feels the Indigenous tournament is a valuable opportunity for Onkwehón:we to experience competitive golf. 

“It’s one of the best ideas that they’ve come up with,” said Mayo.

marcus@easterndoor.com

This article was originally published in print on June 28 in issue 33.26 of The Eastern Door.

Marcus is an award-winning journalist and 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.

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Marcus is an award-winning journalist and 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.