The Boys are coming to town.
Well, more to the point, the Boys Amateur Invitational will be played at Barrie Country Club (BCC) today.
More than 60 elite amateur players will compete in two-man teams in a 27-hole competition at the city's north-end course that has been a fixture at its current site for 60 years and more than a century in Barrie.
It’s the tournament’s third year and is a nod to William Alves “Pro” Boys, who was one of Barrie’s most prominent citizens in the early 20th century.
“We are trying (to create) a tournament for good amateur players and (run it) like a member-guest,” said BCC general manager Ryan Ennis. “I would like to (eventually) see a full 96-player field.”
Ernie Vettese and Brad Greenside won last year and are back to defend their title. Greenside, who plays out of Tangle Creek near Thornton, is also the reigning Ontario Champion of Champions title holder, an event he won in the spring at Deer Creek in Ajax.
Former BCC club champion Andrew Nagel, who holds the course record of nine under par 63, is also taking part with his partner, Ryan Giffen.
Two-player teams will play a nine-hole best-ball format, followed by a nine-hole scramble. The field will then be split into halves for the final nine holes of alternate shot.
Ennis, newly promoted to BCC’s general manager after a few years as its head professional, is trying to establish ‘the Boys’ as a signature event on both his club’s and the local area’s golf calendar each season.
The country club has hosted most of Canada’s top amateur competitions, including the national men’s mid-amateur a decade ago that was won by Garrett Rank, who now works full-time as an NHL referee.
Other elite tournaments held at BCC include the Toronto Star Amateur, which was effectively the Greater Toronto Area’s championship for both men and women. The PGA of Ontario championship was held at BCC in July and was won by former European Tour pro Alan McLean.
Naming this event in honour of Boys is a nod to his contribution to putting the young city on the map. A lawyer, Boys served as mayor of Barrie but enjoyed his most prominent position as a federal member of Parliament for almost 20 years. After his political career ended, Boys also served as BCC’s president.
Boys died in 1938, just before turning 70.
“He was a crazy-good athlete in a lot of sports and really helped golf (get started) in Barrie,” said Ennis.
This year marks 60 years at the club’s St. Vincent Street location. Before moving there, it was a nine-hole layout on what is now a portion of Sunnidale Park. Its original clubhouse was renamed the Dorian Parker Centre to honour another former Barrie mayor and town trailblazer, who died in 2007.
The Boys Invitational takes place as the golf season winds down. It has been a particularly eventful year for BCC, which, earlier this season, replaced its irrigation system.
“I think our members are looking forward to (returning to) normal,” Ennis said in reference to the huge undertaking to replace underground pipes and hardware all around the property.