By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator


It was a chilly, wet start to the golf season, but it didn’t stop Team Manitoba’s golf hopefuls from practicing and training for final team selections for the Canada Summer Games.

Over the winter, indoor technical sessions at the Golf Dome were paired with strength and conditioning at Sport Manitoba Performance on a weekly basis.

With the season expected to get off to a later start than usual, the team traveled to Victoria, BC to get in some outdoor practice in late March. 

“In Manitoba, with our shortened season, our athletes need some time at the start of the season to get used to being outside, hitting on grass again,” said Team Toba men’s golf Head Coach, Derrik Goodwin. “Having the opportunity to kick off the season out west can hopefully help them reach their personal goals this season.” 

Derrik, along with women’s Head Coach Bri-ann Tokariwski, are no strangers to each other or big competitions.

After assisting with the University of Manitoba Bison’s golf team for a number of years, the pair have now taken over leadership of the team and will prepare Team Toba for the national spotlight in Niagara.

Both teams participate in tournaments, training sessions, and leagues that play every Monday to get in as much competitive practice as they can.

It also helps them adjust to new courses and get comfortable with the unfamiliar, since, at Games, it will be all new on the Douglas-Carrick-designed Battlefield Course at Legends on the Niagara.


Herd Of Us

There are currently 14 girls and 21 boys on the training team, all of whom are competing for just two spots in each gender category. 

“Our athletes are really quite excited as are our coaches,” said Executive Director of Golf Manitoba, Jared Ladobruk. “We’re looking forward to golf being a part of the Games this year and to hopefully many more Games to come.”

Team selection is based on the top four or five scores out of six or seven competitive rounds (TBD as one of their dates was rained out), with their final opportunity for team selection being at the Junior Championships at St. Charles July 13-15.

Once the four Team Toba golfers make their way to Niagara, they will be in for some fantastic competition.


Competition On The Course: A Quiet, Powerful Energy 

While Derrik himself hasn’t played the Battlefield Course, he has been scouting it online and feels the length of his players will be an advantage. 

With two practice rounds scheduled, players will have a chance to get a feel for the course, and the coaches will work to build a customized game plan based on the strengths of each player.

What can the athletes expect from the atmosphere on the national stage?

Bri-ann describes the golf course at a competition like the Canada Games to be a very different type of intense energy, compared to something like a stadium filled with the cheers and roars of a crowd.

“Everything almost goes deathly quiet,” said Bri-ann.

But it still carries the energy you would feel at a large sporting event. It’s just going to look a little different, she said.

“Especially for the athletes. I know that is going to be a little bit more stressful, but also very, very exciting. Because all the hard work they put in over the season is going to be able to come out once they step out on that course,” said Bri-ann.

With that kind of pressure, both Bri-ann and Derrik have some tips on how to stay focused during competition.



The Mental Game

“It’s so easy to go out on the golf course and worry about the conditions of the golf course that day, the set up of the golf course, the pin placements, the other golfers in your group, the other golfers in the tournament, and sometimes it can be very different to focus on the things that you can control,” said Derrik.

But he said it’s really helpful to figure out what you do when you play well vs what you do when you don’t play well. 

That requires awareness, and looks different for each golfer.

“Somebody should maybe be focusing on balance, somebody should be focusing on tempo, somebody needs to stay consistent within their routine, somebody needs to be target-oriented, somebody needs to be internal-focused on their own swing,” said Derrik.

Bri-ann said in golf, it’s easy to either become afraid to fail or even succeed, but you have to believe in yourself and your ability.

It’s also a test of presence – to forget about everything else going on around you, except the shot in front of you.

“[It’s about] not focusing on what you’ve just done, whether it was really good, or if you had a bit of a harder hole,” said Bri-ann.


First-Time Games Coaches

This is Bri-ann’s first time as a coach at the Canada Games, but she is not new to the event. She competed as an athlete in 2009. 

This summer, she is looking forward to seeing the difference between the athlete and coach experience.

“As a coach, it’s really neat, because I understand where these girls are coming from. I kind of know what they’re feeling, the pressures, everything leading up to it. So I really want to be a calming factor for the girls when they’re out there.”

Derrik, who’s a first-time coach at Canada Games, too, is excited to see his junior athletes compete and navigate a multi-sport environment and to learn from other coaches.

“It’s going to be so cool in the fact that there’s going to be coaches from so many different spots, staying in the same spot, and getting to pick the brains of some — whether it be rugby coaches, or soccer coaches, or swimming coaches, or whoever it is. And just having the chance to see what they do and maybe things that I can do a little bit different, or a little bit better to enhance our program as we move forward,” said Derrik.

Team Toba Takeaways

Earlier this year, Derrik became the Head Professional at Glendale Golf & Country Club while Bri-ann is entering her fourth season as an Assistant Pro at Elmhurst Golf & Country Club.

Given their experience, they and Jared have some pieces of advice for the athletes at Games.

“Now you get to go out and really enjoy the process, because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a lot of these athletes. And this is really the time where we get to showcase our athletes at a multi-sport event vs in [a] golf-specific aspect,” said Bri-ann.

When she thinks about what an opportunity this is, three things come to mind: pride, honour, and showing all the hard work they’ve put in has paid off.

Derrik said his expectation is the athletes who qualify focus on the process and enjoy the opportunity and experience.

“I truly feel that good results come from focusing on the things we can control and having a good mindset heading into each round,” said Derrik.

Jared said, at the end of the day, they’ve earned the right to be there. His advice is to be present and mindful and enjoy being a part of a provincial team and connecting with others.

“Golf… it’s a global sport, it’s growing. Participation is at an alltime high over the last number of years. So, to have the opportunity to represent and to participate and be a part of Team Manitoba is an honour, I think, that they’re all looking forward to,” said Jared.

Golf was added to the Canada Games in 2009, and includes both individual and team competitions. In 2017, Manitoba women’s were fourth and the men’s team finished T-4.


Learn More & Follow The Journey

To learn more about golf in Niagara, visit the Canada Summer Games website. To learn more about Golf Manitoba, visit their website and follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.