If a winning formula exists for the Jones Cup, then Big Canyon Country Club might have written the book.
The 20th annual Jones Cup will take place at Shady Canyon Golf Club in Irvine on Wednesday, featuring Big Canyon, Mesa Verde, Newport Beach, Santa Ana and Shady Canyon as the competing clubs.
Big Canyon won last year’s tournament at Santa Ana Country Club, carding nine under par in the best-two-balls-out-of-five format.
Beyond that, Big Canyon has won 10 times in 19 previous starts at the Jones Cup.
Robert Pang, director of golf at Big Canyon, has been with the club for 13 years. He remembered his introduction to the Jones Cup, when he broke in as a club professional under then captain Bob Lovejoy.
“When I first came to Big Canyon, I started in May, and next thing you know, I was playing in this event in June,” Pang said. “Bob kind of got me going in this whole thing, and being as the club pro, not the team captain, I don’t know if there is pressure or not, but obviously, you’re the team leader when you become a captain.
“We’ve had a couple of years that we did succeed winning. We’ve had a good run for a while now. We won last year, and hopefully we can keep it up this year.”
Big Canyon will be rich in experience with the five-person group it has put together. Each member of the Big Canyon team has played in the Jones Cup before.
Filling out the Big Canyon roster will be club professional Chris Valeriano, ladies’ club champion Olivia Slutzky, men’s club champion Stewart Hagestad and Jamie Held, who was tapped as an alternate for senior club champion Don DuBois.
“Everybody who is on our team has at least played once,” Pang said. “We have some experience under our belts, so we’re very excited. We’re very fortunate to have the team that we have going to Shady Canyon on Wednesday.”
Pang, Valeriano and Hagestad contributed to Big Canyon’s victory last year. Hagestad produced a seven-birdie round in his tournament debut.
Slutzky also helped Big Canyon bring home a Jones Cup crown in 2011.
Pang has been a part of six Jones Cup championship teams. Four of them have come as a team captain.
Leading up to the tournament, strong team chemistry has been an element that the clubs have focused on as the event approaches. The path to victory might be simpler than that.
“There’s not really much to it,” Pang said. “You’ve got to make putts, and you’ve got to play well, obviously, to win a tournament.
“We’ve got to go out there, play well out there, and see what happens after 18 holes.”
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