Big Canyon seeks Jones Cup title No. 8

Dare call Big Canyon Country Club a Jones Cup dynasty?

The club has built a resume in the 12 prior tournaments to give itself a legitimate claim to the term: seven championships, including last year on its home course.

The defending champs return with four of five players from last year's team in the lineup, who will join teams from Santa Ana, Mesa Verde and Newport Beach country clubs, and Shady Canyon Golf Club, Wednesday at Newport Beach Country Club for the 13th Jones Cup. Tee off is 12:30 p.m.

Big Canyon features head professional Robert Pang, assistant Michael Castillo, women's champion Lisa Brennan, senior champion Gary Singer and men's champion Mike Carpenter.

It will be Brennan's first time in the Jones Cup. She started playing golf 3 ½ years ago. She went to the Big Canyon driving range with her husband George, hit some balls and fell for the game.

"I never played any golf [to that point]," Brennan said. "Now, I love it. I play four times a week; every Tuesday and Thursday, and with my husband and other couples on the weekend.

"It's a very frustrating game."

But a game that can turn in a moment, as Brennan experienced Sunday at Shady Canyon during a couples tournament.

"I pulled a four-wood toward a wilderness area that ended up on the other fairway," Brennan said. "I eventually chipped on the green and made a putt. It was an amazing recovery. Things like that keep me coming back."

Brennan also comes off a victory in Big Canyon's "Balboa," a two-day member guest tournament. She teamed with Liz Slater to claim first place in the gross division.

So why has Big Canyon been so successful in the Jones Cup, which uses the two best balls of each group for every hole?

"We have good players in it and we've won with a lot of different people," Carpenter said.

Big Canyon has received contributions through the years from, among others, former head pro Bob Lovejoy, Will Tipton, Olivia Slutzky, and Martha Redfearn.

Last year, Big Canyon rolled to a nine-shot victory. The team birdied 10 times and bogeyed once.

"Everyone contributed in different holes," Carpenter said. "If everyone plays solid, you give yourself enough chances. Four putts for birdie are better than one."

Carpenter tallied three birdies while teammates Pang, Singer and Slutzky all had two birdies.

Carpenter said he has played Newport a number of times, including last week, and believes this year's tournament will come down to a putting contest.

Home-course advantage is important, he said. But Carpenter also said that golfers play the different courses so they become familiar with the layouts.

Pang said in an email that it helps having players with tournament experience, whether it be aU.S. Openqualifier, in which Carpenter has competed, or Redfearn and Slutzky both playing in the 2010 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur.

So what will it take to prevail at Newport Beach?

"The course is in great shape and the greens are fast," Carpenter said. "You have to leave yourself on the right side of holes, and you can't [hit an approach shot] short and expect to get up and down. Putts can easily get away from you."

One thing's for sure: The other clubs will be primed to unseat Big Canyon and claim the Jones Cup.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World