Daniel Cluney’s pursuit of excellence in golf has led him to one of Canada’s most famous courses.
After completing his first year of study in the golf management program at Holland College in Prince Edward Island, the 18-year-old defending Blomidon Golf and Country Club junior champion will complete his required summer work term at Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ont.
Designed by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, the course opened in 1976 and houses the Royal Canadian Golf Association and Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. It has hosted 26 Canadian Open Championships, more than any other course, with the most recent coming in 2013.
“It is an awesome course,” Cluney said via telephone earlier this week. “It’s real nice to have the opportunity to work there and play on it this summer.”
This is actually Cluney’s second time visiting the course, the first coming a few years ago when he was working with Sean Casey, the director of instruction at Glen Abbey. He decided to email his old acquaintance to see if it was possible to complete his work term requirement there this summer.
“We talked it through and everything worked out pretty well,” said Cluney.
Most of his job revolves around setting up for the day and making sure things are running smoothly. The work term began about two weeks ago and will continue until mid-August. He hadn’t had a chance to play the course yet when interviewed, but remembered the two or three rounds he did get in during his last visit. Even after golfing at the national level, Glen Abbey still wows him.
“This is, I guess you could say, a different level,” he said.
This opportunity all came about, of course, after he accepted a President’s Award of Excellence Scholarship — valued at $5,000 — at Holland College for this past year.
The workload offers a little bit of everything about the industry, including details about what goes into running a pro shop, a driving range and other typical golf course amenities. There’s also another side to his studies, with core courses involving business communications, marketing and human resources.
“It’s in-depth, but just gives you a taste of everything,” he said.
He said many people complete the two-year program at Holland College, which he’s committed himself to, but then either transfer the credits towards a business degree or complete a third year that’s based around becoming certified by the Professional Golfers Association of Canada.
“I’m planning on doing a business degree, but I haven’t decided if I’m going to stay the third year there yet,” said Cluney.
Whatever he winds up doing, he’ll still use his time in P.E.I. to improve his golf game. He’s already noticed a difference after one year, where he got to practice daily and play competitively in a couple of varsity events.
He tied for seventh overall with an 85 at a Dalhousie University Agricultural event at Northumberland Golf Course in his first varsity action back in September, then finished in eighth place at the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association Championships at The Links at Crowbush Cove in P.E.I. with a two-round total of 166 in early October.
“I was fairly pleased with my play,” he said.
“This was my first time seeing all those courses, so I couldn’t have expected too much.”
There was a certain intimidation factor, he admits, from playing with and against such capable golfers. After a year where he was able to play later into the fall than he did back home, and then keep his swing strong throughout the winter months with an indoor golf simulator, he believes he won’t be as green in his second year.
“My goal for next year is to make the top five (on his team) to have a chance to go to (Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association) nationals,” he said.
As for this summer, he’ll get home near the end of August, between the time his work term ends and his second year of studies at Holland College begins.