Conner Westhaver recently took part in the Midget Championship, where he finished in a three-way tie for ninth out of the top 73 in the province. Now the 14 year old is off to the Nova Scotia Junior Championships in Cape Breton, taking place from July 11-14.
The tournament in Cape Breton is bringing in the top 168 golfers between the ages of 10 and 18, and Conner is just one of 15 players in the midget category.
Conner took up golfing two summers ago after his step-dad Paul Langille started playing. He saw how much Paul was enjoying it, and decided to give it a try himself.
“I thought I might as well try it. He’s having fun at it,” says Conner.
On his first day out he met Dave Kemshead, who runs the pro shop at the White Point Golf course. Kemshead took him under his wing and taught Conner a few tips and techniques. However it was a bet that eventually got Conner completely hooked.
Kemshead bet the young golfer he couldn’t break 100 in his first year. The prize was a professional golf bag. Not only did Conner break 100, he did so in just three weeks.
“Right after I got the bag, I was hooked on it,” says Conner.
Conner played again last summer, but this year he took part in his first tournament. It was much different than he expected as well.
“I was pretty sure all the players were going to be uptight and strict, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was just fun,” he says.
To prepare for his tournaments, Conner recently took part in a training camp. At the camp, he beat a challenge that had never been done before. The target was a medium sized tree, about 100 yards from the tee. The goal was to hit the tree in the centre of the trunk. The prize was $20. Conner made $20 extra that day on his first shot.
Conner is getting noticed for his skills by others as well. Golfers at the club in White Point are complimenting him on his game, and he develops a small crowd when he goes to the simulator in Golf Town. He’s also been beating juniors who have been golfing several more years then him. Recently playing a round with Paul he got his first hole in one.
Mom Rosemary Westhaver laughs and says they really can’t stop him from getting a big head from all the accolades. However Conner keeps himself grounded through discipline and knowing shooting a 78 one day does not mean shooting a 78 the next.
“Golf is not a consistent game,” says Conner.
It’s not all a free ride for Conner though. He has been paying his own way into the tournaments and golf camp, and bought his own clubs with money he earned. Recently he worked in the proshop cleaning clubs to pay his way for the Cape Breton tournament.
Conner says he hopes to take his golfing career further, maybe even make Team Canada in a couple of years when he is eligible. Until then, he will continue to work on his game, and show a few old pros a thing or two.