Scott Stiles driver’s licence may say Calgary, but he looked at home at Red Deer Golf and Country Club, winning the 16th annual skins game.
Stiles won two skins worth a combined $7,250 over the nine-hole event, edging out RDGCC assistant pro Jordan Krulicki, who earned $6,500, for the title.
“It’s a lot of fun and it never hurts to make a little money,” said Stiles, 28.
The two golfers were the only ones to collect any skins, beating out Steven Lecuyer, a three-time veteran of the skins game, Riley Fleming, who sits 30th on the Canadian Tour, and Ryan Werre out of Redcliff.
The pay day was much needed for the two-time Alberta Amateur champion. He missed the cut at the PGA Tour Canada Q-school and now plays the hard way, qualifying for each tournament through a Monday round.
The course played into his hands thanks to a 45-minute thunder shower that rolled through prior to teeing off that helped soften everything up.
But he already knew the ins and outs of the course, having played it many times. His mom’s side of the family is from Red Deer and he says his grand father passed away mid-round out on the course almost 40 years ago.
“I’ve probably played here more than any other course in Alberta other than Bearspaw, I used to come up here in the summer all the time,” said Stiles, who also has a house in Sylvan Lake.
He collected two skins and needed two terrific shots to collect the prize money.
The first skin was worth $5,250 on the fourth hole, with no one yet able to claim a skin. After a tee shot that stayed just in play on the right hand side of the par 5 that runs along the Red Deer River, his approach shot was on target, but still 25 feet short of the green. He made up it with a perfect chip, and the shot of the day, holing out for eagle and a $100 bonus.
“I just liked what I was looking at and felt good, and Keeton my caddie as we were walking up said I might as well chip it in, so sometimes it works out,” he said.
He went into the final hole trailing Krulicki, who picked up $6,500 on Hole 8. Four of the golfers ‚ Stiles, Lecuyer, Werre and Krulicki — forced a carry over on the final hole, putting into play a 100-yard shootout tie breaker.
Krulicki missed the green short and Werre was 20 feet wide of the hole. Stiles and Lecuyer, however, were both all over the pin, ending up within two-feet of the hole.
Lecuyer was up first and burned a corner on the short putt while Stiles dropped his in the middle of the cup to pick up another $2,000.
“I like hitting wedges and it was a real good yardage for me so I just forgot about everything else and focused on my shot and managed to hit a good one in there,” said Stiles. “You don’t expect him to miss one like that, he doesn’t miss many putts. I figured we were going to have to go to a chip-off, but when he missed you just zero in a little bit more, my putt was only from a couple of feet, so you make sure you’re careful and that it ends up in the back of the cup.”
Krulicki, 26, was happy he was able to represent his hometown course, though the prize money adds a nice bump to his income as well.
On the eighth hole he teed off with an iron on the 418-yard par 4, finding the middle of the fairway. He then hit a masterful approach shot to within a few feet of the hole that elicited a smile from Krulicki as he turned back to look at the gallery.
He drained the putt while Fleming burned an edge on the hole to give Krulicki the skin.
“You do feel the pressure as the holes start to accumulate the money … to hear that number, it was like ‘OK, alright, here we go,’” he said with a laugh. “I haven’t felt that kind of pressure, those nerves, for a long time, since my competitive amateur playing days. it was fun, those guys are super fun and super laid back.”
RDGCC head pro Ken Frame was impressed with the day’s action, in particular the play of Krulicki.
“It was awesome, there was a ton of good shots and boy those kids sure hit it far, it’s exciting to watch,” he said. “(Krulicki) struggled on a couple of holes, but I think that was more nerves than anything. But he hit some great shots out there. That shot he hit in on 8 for birdie and to get all of those skins and to pocket $6,500 was pretty incredible. I was very proud of the young man, he’s a good kid.”
The skins game has become a mainstay on the Canadian golf landscape and an important stop over for many players looking to boost their golfing fund.
“It’s very important to me, it’s very important to the club and it’s very important to the players,” said Frame. “They don’t have anything like this on the Canadian Tour. This is their biggest extra event of the year and they beat the doors down to try and get in this event.”
Up next for the club is the Guardian Capital Alberta Senior Men’s Championship from July 28-30.