BY BRAD ZIEMER
KELOWNA — Devan Dubnyk doesn’t even blink when he stares down NHL players who fire 100-miles-per-hour slap shots at him.
But put him on the first tee with a crowd watching and he’s a nervous wreck.
“This is terrifying,” Dubnyk muttered as stood over his ball on the first tee at Gallagher’s Canyon Golf & Country Club on Wednesday afternoon.
Dubnyk, the Minnesota Wild goaltender, was joined by former NHL players Wade Redden, Chuck Kobasew and Todd Simpson in a charity skins match with four golf pros from the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada circuit. The match was part of the opening festivities of the inaugural GolfBC Championship, which begins with Thursday’s first round.
“Oh yeah, I was nervous,” Dubnyk said after the match. “I was only concerned that I didn’t completely shank one. It was not a good shot, but as long as I made solid contact with the ball I was fine. I didn’t care where it went. So it worked out.”
Actually, Dubnyk settled down nicely. On the second hole, he stuck a nine-iron to kick-in distance from about 140 yards that earned him and partner Wade Binfield of Fayetteville, Ga., a birdie and a skin.
Each hockey player was paired with a pro and the teams were playing for a $5,000 charity pot put up by the tournament. GolfBC owner Caleb Chan added another $5,000 to make it a $10,000 pot. It was an alternate-shot format that produced some good shots, some bad shots and lots of good-natured banter between the teams.
Redden, the former all-star defenceman, was paired with Chilliwack’s Brad Clapp. Redden hit what might have been the shot of the day on the first hole when he chipped in for par after Clapp had chunked a chip out of the rough.
“I have chipped them in before,” Redden said before doing just that.
Simpson, a former defenceman who played more than 500 NHL games, was paired with Max Gilbert of Saint-Georges, Que. Kobasew, a former Kelowna Rockets star who played more than 600 NHL games, was paired with Chris Ross of Dundas, Ont.
The match, which was tied after four holes, went to a sudden-death format that saw players hit 150-yard approach shots from the 18th fairway. The team of Gilbert and Simpson won when Gilbert rolled in a 15-foot putt after Simpson had put his approach shot just left of the pin.
“That’s what you say in hockey and in golf, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Simpson said after Dubnyk missed a short putt that would have extended the match.
Simpson and Gilbert had started the match deep in the right rough after they both hit wayward drives on the first tee.
“He did great,” Gilbert said of Simpson. “He hit a great shot in overtime, so that is why we won.”
“It’s always fun to play with the pros,” Simpson said. “You think you are kind of good, but then you see very quickly that these guys are the real deal and it’s a lot of fun to play with them.”
Simpson donated his $2,500 portion of the charity winnings to the YMCA Strong Kids Program in Kelowna, which he has a long association with. The remaining $7,500 went to the B.C. Cancer Foundation, which is the tournament’s main charitable beneficiary.