Balfour golfer recognized for mentorship

Braden Chown was named Junior Golf Leader of the Year last month by PGA of BC.

Balfour's Braden Chown has been awarded for mentoring young golfers.

A Balfour golfer has been recognized for his work with young players.

Braden Chown was named Junior Golf Leader of the Year for the Kootenay region last month by PGA of BC. The 25-year-old, who works at Castlegar Golf Club, was one of three people in the province to win the award.

“It was kind of out the blue and unexpected, but it felt good to be acknowledged for the work I’ve put in this year,” said Chown. “It was really cool.”

Chown runs junior programs and works with kids aged 10 to 17. Earlier this year he offered to take two of his pupils to a provincial tournament in Chilliwack when their parents couldn’t make the drive.

He said helping young players learn the game has become a passion.

“It’s more than teaching them golf,” said Chown. “Because there’s so many lessons in golf that they can learn — hard work, patience and focus — that they can carry in other aspects of their life. So I think I just enjoy being that mentor figure for them.”

Chown started golfing when he was five years old after seeing the sport on television. He asked his father to let him try the game.

“Balfour has a little par-3 course out there that he took me to. That’s how I got started,” said Chown. “He’d take me up there in the summers and I’d just knock the ball around.”

He ended up going to work at the Balfour Golf Course when he was 12 years old.

A year later he finished fourth a provincial tournament, which motivated him to make a career out of golf.

Chown kept working at the course until he was 23, while also taking a golf management program at Lethbridge College in Lethbridge, Alta., before going to work in Castlegar two seasons ago.

Chown’s next step is to see how far his own game will take him. He’s leaving today for a month in Phoenix to see if he has what it takes to compete professionally.

“People ask, ‘When are you going to go on Tour? When are you going to go play with the pros?'” said Chown.

“This year I took my game to another level, I had my best round ever, I had two hole-in-ones this year. I just progressed with my game to the point where I started thinking maybe I should go down to the States this winter and see what I can do.”

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