Being among the youngest bantam-aged boys in the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour, Declan Riddle just wants to gain experience.
Riddle, 12, said it’s been good playing in Coquitlam, Langley and Pitt Meadows’ Swan-e-Set Bay Resort.
“I really love it,” said Riddle, who shot an 85 on June 2, which was his best. “They (players) are very good. They do have some talent in parts of their game.”
The Summerland resident said his play has been okay but knows he has more. Riddle wants to continue getting scores in the 85 range and lower. Playing on the MJT will give the experience while focusing on hitting the ball straight.
“Working on not worrying about distance,” said Riddle, who appreciates the support from his family. “More on accuracy. If you want to win but make some mistakes, it will be difficult to get back in.”
Riddle’s coach Brodie Carle said the first year for players in the MJT is a feeling out process.
“It’s hard the first year,” he said, as players are learning the courses. “He’s done reasonably well.”
Carle, an instructor at the Two Eagles Academy in Kelowna, said that Riddle possesses outstanding composure and his best features physically are his short game and putting.
“At 12 he is a feel player which is very rare,” said Carle, who has coached Riddle since he was 10. “I coach other good players who depend on instruction. He makes a lot of independent decisions.”
What Carle loves about Riddle is his attitude and awareness.
Riddle loves to play the game.
“It’s so tough to play it but when you have it, it’s really fun to do it,” said Riddle, a fan of Phil Mickelson because of his consistent play and focus.
Riddle, a multi-sport athlete in hockey, basketball, volleyball, tennis, squash, rugby, karate and swimming, began playing golf when he was three after he was given a set of plastic clubs. The backyard became his training grounds. He eventually upgraded to the Summerland Golf and Country Club, whose staff he praised for their kindness, after trading in his kid clubs for real ones.
Among Riddle’s goals is to become a scratch player at age 14 and travel for tournaments.
The MJT, according to its website, provides a road to college golf in Canada and is the only program offering free college consultations. Players get exposure to coaches during qualifiers or high-level tournaments.
Riddle, who also plays in B.C.’s Zone 2 and shoots in the mid to late 70s, has also been chosen to represent B.C. in Washington State for Wahlroth Cup (Under Junior Linkster – Vancouver based not Okanagan) which is a Match Play style as per the Ryder Cup.