Las Vegas is one of those places where people go to have fun.
The Yellowknife chapter of the Mediocre Golf Association (MGA) made the trip to Sin City for the big Mediocre event of the season, and they made sure they had fun. Legally, of course.
Eight golfers from the city took in the MGA World Championships, which wrapped up on Sunday. No one from the North won the world championship belt itself, which goes to the champion of the main event, but Ryan Sheppard did manage to be the lone Yellowknife golfer who finished in the double-digit range in the final standings. He ended up in 62nd place overall with a net 36-hole score of 191.
Sheppard said the golfing was great but the course was even better.
“Those folks do a great job keeping it in good shape for us,” he said. “Couple of hundred people each day and they keep it well organized.”
Hughie Graham, Kevin Hewitt, Shaun Morris and Bob Ross were the other Yellowknifers in the main event. All finished well back.
There was a secondary tournament called the Born Hairy Tour, a play on the Korn Ferry Tour, the PGA’s main developmental tour, with the other three Yellowknife competitors playing there: Justin Bailey, Winter Bailey and Jenni Bruce. Justin finished 18th overall with a score of 206. Winter had the same score but ended up placed 21st.
Morris, the Yellowknife chapter’s president, said the group of eight once again did Yellowknife proud.
“Everyone is always amazed at how we do it each year, especially since our course closes a month before everything starts,” he said. “We’re easily the most sought-after group for people to talk to.”
The courses in Las Vegas are made of grass and because the course in Yellowknife is made of sand, the transition can be tricky.
Morris said the group always tries to get in a couple of practice rounds before everything gets going but it’s still tough to adjust.
While no one from Yellowknife earned a solo title, there was team glory for Ross. Because of his standing on the World Money List, Ross was invited to play in what’s called the Medio Cup, the MGA’s version of the Ryder Cup team tournament.
It pits 10 players from the World Money List against 10 players from the San Francisco chapter — the original MGA group — in a series of head-to-head contests conducted under match play rules. That’s where players win holes based on the score of each hole as opposed to traditional stroke play rules. Each match won is worth one point toward a team’s final total.
Ross lost his head-to-head match, but Team World ended up on top overall, giving Ross a medal.
“We got something out of it for Yellowknife,” said Morris.
The world championships resumed play this year after the 2020 event was cancelled due to Covid-19. Morris said the return was a welcome one for everyone involved.
“You meet so many great people every year,” he said. “There’s that box you have to check for why you’re making the trip and I checked family reunion because it’s like catching up with your family. It’s the spirit of the whole thing — the golf is secondary because you’re around good people and they become your friends.”
Sheppard echoed that sentiment.
“It’s my third time playing in it and it gets better every year,” he said. “It’s great to see old faces and people look forward to us being there. We have the reputation of being a group of guys who love to have fun.”
There was even some tourism sales pitches, he added.
“There was lots of talk about coming up for the Midnight Classic (in Yellowknife),” he said. “That perked them up when they heard what it’s all about.”
Graham also had some words about what going back to play meant to him personally.
“The MGA has become a big part of my life,” he said. “Our Yellowknife chapter continues to evolve and new members (are) experiencing the amazing time that is the world championship. I’m filled with a sense of awe. Who knew we would have this many friends spread out through the U.S. that I just can’t wait to see in person every year?”
Sheppard also made sure people knew that Morris and Graham are the driving forces behind the Yellowknife chapter.
“Those guys are awesome,” he said. “The effort those two put in is amazing and they make it so easy to play and be a part of it all.”