The Jones Cup, a golf tournament played between local country clubs, will be contested for the 20th time on Wednesday at Shady Canyon Golf Club in Irvine.
Big Canyon, Mesa Verde, Newport Beach and Santa Ana will be competing along with the host club. Newport Beach tees off first at 12:30 p.m.
Shady Canyon director of golf Brian Gunson plans on being a good host, but do not think for a second that winning is not on his mind.
“I think that the Jones Cup, it’s about winning,” Gunson said. “It’s also about hosting and making sure that everyone has a good time, whether it’s the four other teams or the other members of the clubs that come into Shady Canyon.
“I think each club will try to showcase their own club, so it’s all about the experience, but the icing on the cake is, obviously, winning.”
Gunson prefers his club’s record is remembered in the following manner. “We’re 1-0 at Shady Canyon,” he said.
Gunson will be joined by his right-hand man in club professional Kirk Manley. The duo has represented Shady Canyon in each of its Jones Cup appearances.
Filling out the Shady Canyon roster will be Scott Barton (men’s club champion), Kelly Ly (women’s club champion) and Charles Kavanaugh (senior club champion).
Kavanaugh will be making his third Jones Cup start for Shady Canyon. Gunson said that Barton and Ly will be making their tournament debuts. “It’s our major of the year,” Gunson said of the Jones Cup. “We don’t play tournament golf. This is like our Masters of the year.
“This is something that we look forward to. We think about it all year. We try to plan towards it. We try to get our games in shape.”
A golfer’s chances of winning at the Masters often hinge on how they perform on Amen Corner at Augusta National Golf Club. Gunson believes that the ninth hole at Shady Canyon will present an opportunity for clubs to gain ground.
“Like any hole, you need to get it in play [off the tee],” Gunson said on the par-four hole. “It’s just the second shot is key. If you can make a couple of birdies on No. 9, you’re going to make up a couple of strokes on the field.”
Overall, Gunson says that the Jones Cup has been good for golf in the area, and it has heightened the competition within each respective club. Shady Canyon shared third at last year’s Jones Cup, which Big Canyon won.
“I think any member that has ever played in it before, it’s definitely in the back of their mind when they’re playing the senior, men’s and [women’s] club championships,” he added. “They know that if they win, not only do they win the tournament, they get to play in the Jones Cup, too.”
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