Stewart Walker has had a trying 2019 at times, but the young Whistler golfer is rebounding and making the most of his summer.
Walker was hospitalized with appendicitis in the spring, interrupting his preparations for the summer season, giving the 14-year-old Nicklaus North member some additional challenges as he works on developing his game.
However, in an interview atPique's office on Aug. 6, Walker said he's generally golfing a round a day, at minimum, as he prepares for some major events on his calendar. At the forefront is the B.C. Juvenile Championships next week from Aug. 13 to 15 at The Meadows at Pemberton, and Walker has been up preparing for the tournament as he eyes a top-three finish.
"It's going to be a really good one, I think," he said. "It's different on the back nine, it's quite tight on the back nine with a lot of trees, but it will be interesting.
"I'm taking notes every time I'm there for the tournament."
Walker is coming off some good news as he excelled at the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship subregional qualifier at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash. on Aug. 5, advancing to the regional qualifier of the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Wash. on Sept. 8. If he advances from there, he will compete at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, home of the Masters, in early April.
Walker recently completed his first year at Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island, which has allowed him to golf more during the offseason. He's enjoyed being part of a team, however, as one of his schoolmates was recently in from California to golf alongside him.
"I'm more used to playing just by myself," he said. "But it's fun."
However, the year was interrupted by his bout with appendicitis, which hospitalized him for three weeks. It was difficult to even gain a diagnosis, as doctors in Duncan didn't pinpoint the issue, but after heading south to Victoria, doctors there caught the ailment and performed an operation.
Walker returned to the course for his birthday, May 19, as he got to play his first round of golf in four weeks.
"It was so good. I could only half-swing and I think I ended up shooting a 76. It isn't too bad," he said. "I was set back quite a bit. I lost 15 pounds in the hospital. I lost a lot of strength, so I was just building back my strength."
The intervening time was tough on Walker, as he was sleeping upwards of 20 hours a day and when he did get out to golf, he was limited in his activities.
"It was pretty tough. I was out to chip and putt quite a bit, but watching other people hitting long irons and driving was not that fun," he said.
Walker credited coach Graham Kehoe with helping to get the best out of him in the years they've been working together, and especially to get him back on track after his illness.
In one training session, Walker moved up to the red tees and shot a 59. He's now trying to go a round without a bogey from the regular tees—so far he's come close and has advanced down to the last two holes before recording an above-par score.
Meadows at Pemberton eager for event
While golfers are eager for the B.C. Juvenile Championships, so too is its host course.
Meadows at Pemberton general manager Kevin McLeod said the course is in great shape and ready for the more than 90 golfers registered as of Aug. 6. The championships are designed for competitors aged 13 to 15.
"Our maintenance team has done a fantastic job getting things ready for the kids," he said. "We've never had a tournament like this before, so everyone's quite excited. It spotlights golf and will hopefully rejuvenate the crowd of golf and bring more kids into golf."
In other course news, the Meadows is hosting a 35th anniversary party on Sept. 14 with She Stole My Beer, Marble Canyon, Steep Creek and DJ Foxy Moron.
Tickets are $45 and available at pembertongolf.com. McLeod added that there will be a shuttle from Whistler for those who are interested for an extra charge.