Seniors get introduction to golf



By Ron Giofu


Thanks to a golf professional, several people within the community got a chance to try the game for the first time.

Matt Bodde met with a group of golfing beginners in the Libro Centre’s indoor sports field. It was mainly seniors who turned out the first time but he is offering paid courses in January and April.

“This was a free clinic for a new program we’re bringing to the Libro Centre,” explained Bodde. “We’re doing it in here with softer balls.”

Local golf pro Matt Bodde demonstrates a swing during a recent workshop at the Libro Centre. Courses will be offered in January and April.

Bodde, who is the golf pro at Seven Lakes Golf Course in LaSalle, said he approached Libro Centre staff about starting a new golf program with the aim, in part, to get seniors interested in golfing. However, the course is designed for beginners and for those who need to “brush up on their golfing skills.”

Aspects of the course will include fitness, learning the basics of golf from the grip to the swing and video analysis as well.

“I worked in the United States for 30 years as a club pro,” added Bodde.

Bodde believes there will be a good turnout for the classes, which will be capped at ten people per class. People are asked to bring their own clubs, with required clubs for the first class being a wood, a seven-iron, a pitching wedge and a putter.

Winter classes are Jan. 17, 19, 24 and 26 from 10-11 a.m. Spring classes are April 11, 13, 18 and 20 from 10-11 a.m. The fees are $70.

People can register at the Libro Centre. Bodde asks that registration be done no later than 48 hours in advance to the session start date.

Local golfer wraps up successful season, goes to OFSAA



By Ron Giofu


A local youth golfer did well this past season, including strong performances with his school’s golf team.

Josh DiCarlo of General Amherst High School was the individual SWOSSAA champion shooting a -4 (68) at the SWOSSAA championship.  He went on to OFSAA and fired rounds of 73-78 – 151 (+7) in some pretty tough conditions to finish 18th out of 120 players at the OFSAA Championship.

The 16-year-old Grade 11 student said that he made five birdies as part of the SWOSSAA tournament and was happy with how he shot in the first round at OFSAA.

“My mind stayed in the moment,” he said.

DiCarlo said conditions were hard both days and was also satisfied with his second day at OFSAA.

“It was hitting my drives well. The putts weren’t falling,” he said. “I still had fun with the kids I played with.”

General Amherst golfer Josh DiCarlo finished first at SWOSSAA and finished a respectable 18th out of 120 golfers at OFSAA.

DiCarlo is no stranger to tournament success, winning five times in 2017 on the AJGA, GAO and MJT golf circuits, the latter being a tournament in Calgary. He also finished sixth on the Jamieson Tour.

Noting that he would still like to strengthen the mental aspect of his game, DiCarlo said he likes the individual challenges of golf.

“I like how you can’t blame anyone for a mistake,” he said. “It’s all on you.”

DiCarlo said his love of golf started when he went with his father Mark to Oxley to play and his passion grew to where he golfs daily at Pointe West when the whether permits. He plays in tournaments across Ontario, travels to Ohio and elsewhere when he is given the opportunity.

“I’m hoping to get a scholarship,” he said. “I’m going to keep working hard and keep my grades up.”

DiCarlo also thanked his parents Mark and Michelle for “for allowing me to play the sport I love” and General Amherst golf coach Jeff Miller for “everything he does for the golf program.”

Local 13-year-old golfer winning big on the links



By Ron Giofu


Kyla Charlebois had a plastic golf club placed in her hand when she first learned to walk.

Now, the 13-year-old Amherstburg girl uses the real thing and is proving she is quite good at what she does.

Charlebois, a Grade 8 student at École St.-Jean Baptiste, captured three championships on the golf course, including one that will send her to Florida next July.

Kyla Charlebois, a Grade 8 student at École St.-Jean Baptiste, is picking up wins on the golf course. The Amherstburg resident will be heading to the Optimist World Championships in Florida next year.

“This year, I won the Southland Tournament. I also qualified for the Optimist World Championships in Florida,” she explained. “I also won the junior girls club championship at Pointe West.”

The local youth calls Pointe West Golf Club her home course and she said she “feels pretty good” about her accomplishments over the past year. Among the other accomplishments she has earned during her golfing career include winning the Southland nine-hole tournament two years ago and winning the Canadian Nationals in London last year.

In all, Charlebois plays in roughly 12-15 golf tournaments per year.

Charlebois stated that she practices daily and often goes right to the golf course before doing her homework. That said, she still is a straight-A student. Some of her friends don’t like golf, she admitted, but are still very supportive of her.

Her father Ryan, who is also her coach, said his daughter practices four to six hours per day in the summertime and hits into a net installed in the family’s garage during the winter to stay in shape.

Kyla Charlebois, a Grade 8 student at École St.-Jean Baptiste, is picking up wins on the golf course. The Amherstburg resident will be heading to the Optimist World Championships in Florida next year.

Charlebois said her short game is her strength but would like to improve her driving, noting “I would like to hit the ball farther.”

The mental game is something she would also like to work on so she doesn’t get bothered as much by bad shots.

“Next year, I want to play on the Jamieson Tour,” said Charlebois.

Golf is a part of her future, she envisions, as she said she would like to earn a scholarship to university and, maybe one day, join the LPGA Tour. Golfers such as Brooke Henderson, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas are among those she looks up to.

Kyle Spearing strikes gold at Special Olympics golf tournament



By Ron Giofu


A local Special Olympian has struck gold on the links.

Kyle Spearing, 25, won the gold medal at the Special Olympics North America (SONA) golf tournament. He competed in the level five, division six category.

The tournament was held June 26-28 in Seattle.

Spearing, who shot 103, 99 and 91 in his three rounds, said “it was really cool” to come home with the gold medal in his division. He attributed his improvements over the three days to not being as nervous as the tournament went on.

Spearing said he wasn’t sure how he placed until organizers called the winners up and arranged them according to how they finished.

“They put is in place and I sat in the first place chair,” said Spearing.

This was his biggest finish yet at a SONA golf tournament, as Spearing also has two silver medals to his credit. He said he has been golfing for about ten years, the last six of which have been with coach Cory Lajeunesse at Sutton Creek Golf Club.

Spearing said he golfs multiple times per week. He said he is at Sutton Creek “mostly every day, when I’m not working, I’m here practicing and playing.”

“He’s playing four times per week, maybe five,” said Lajeunesse. “He gets his fair share of golf in.”

Spearing added his parents made the trip to Seattle, which made the experience even more special.

Lajeunesse said the SONA golf tournament is the biggest championships between the United States and Canada outside of the world championships.

Kyle Spearing won gold at the recent SONA golf tournament in Seattle, Washington. He competed in level five, division six.

Kyle Spearing won gold at the recent SONA golf tournament in Seattle, Washington. He competed in level five, division six.

“It was unique this year because they didn’t pair you with players in your division,” Lajeunesse stated. “This year, they split us up.”

Lajeunesse knew that Spearing was down two shots heading into the final round. The eventual silver medalist shot 99, 101 and 95 over the three days. He said they learned about five minutes before the actual medal presentation that Spearing won the gold.

“I think he got more comfortable with the course,” Lajeunesse said of the improvement over the three days.

Lajeunesse worked with Spearing each day on what he had to do and how he had to prepare.

“In the end, it all comes down to the short game,” said Lajeunesse.

They won’t have too much time to rest on laurels, as Spearing will be golfing in the Special Olympics provincial tournament in Mississauga this weekend. If he does well there, he could qualify for the national golf tournament which will be next year.

Local golfer returns home with silver medal from Special Olympics tournament



By Ron Giofu


A local golfer has come home with a silver medal from the Special Olympics North America (SONA) golf tournament.

Kyle Spearing took second in his category – Level 5, Division 4 – and captured the silver following three days of golf last month in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Spearing shot 303 for the three rounds of golf.

“It feels good,” said Spearing, who admitted he was “a little nervous” before the tournament.

Kyle Spearing shows the medal he won during last month’s Special Olympics North America golf tournament in Port St. Lucie, Florida

Kyle Spearing shows the medal he won during last month’s Special Olympics North America golf tournament in Port St. Lucie, Florida

“It was a great tournament overall,” said coach Cory Lajeunesse. “After the first round, he was tenth overall.”

Spearing was in 11th overall after the second round but the scores were then calculated to match players with similar scores in the last round.

Spearing competed at the SONA level last year but this year moved from Level 4 to Level 5, meaning he moved from playing nine holes per round to 18 holes per round. While he trained three to four times per week at Sutton Creek Golf Club in preparation for the Special Olympics tournament, Spearing didn’t end up having to worry about walking the course for the three days the tournament was held as organizers permitted use of carts.

“It took a lot off of his shoulders when he learned he could use a cart,” said Lajeunesse.

Spearing said he didn’t know how he did until the third and final round was complete but Lajeunesse knew heading into the final round that Spearing had a shot at winning.

“He had a one-stroke lead going into the final round,” said Lajeunesse. However, Spearing was overtaken in the final round and was edged out by one stroke.

Coming home with a silver was still pleasing for Spearing. Lajeunesse said he was excited as well, though noted there were shots left on the course that could have produced a different result.

“Overall, it was an awesome experience,” said Lajeunesse.

Kyle Spearing (left) stands with coach Cory Lajeunesse last Thursday at Sutton Creek Golf Club.

Kyle Spearing (left) stands with coach Cory Lajeunesse last Thursday at Sutton Creek Golf Club.

Spearing also got an added bonus while golfing in Florida.

“My grandpa made it down from Pittsburgh,” said Spearing. “He was very glad I got second, very happy.”

His parents and family were also able to attend the tournament.

The silver medal was described as another “stepping stone” in Spearing’s long-term plan, which is to compete at the Special Olympics world games. Spearing has already qualified for the provincial games next July in Mississauga and if he does well there, he will qualify for the nationals in 2018. From there, he would advance to the world tournament in 2019.

Spearing added the best parts of his game are putting and driving the ball, though said he wants to work on his chipping. He will work on getting stronger and will continue to work on his golf game even as the colder weather approaches.

Lajeunesse added they thank all who have supported Spearing in his efforts as he tries to reach his goals. That includes those who golf at Sutton Creek and the community as a whole. The tournament in Port St. Lucie was a great learning experience, Lajeunesse continued, noting Spearing got to experience what it was like to travel and golf for three straight days.