Cole Wilson (CAN) on the first tee during Round 1 of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open Championship 2019 at the Co. Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point, Sligo, Ireland, May 16, 2019. (Thos Caffrey/Golffile)

Cole Wilson (CAN) on the first tee during Round 1 of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open Championship 2019 at the Co. Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point, Sligo, Ireland, May 16, 2019. (Thos Caffrey/Golffile)

North Okanagan Knights goalie turns to pro golf, wins first event

Cole Wilson, 20, finished in a tie for first in his debut tournament on the Vancouver Golf Tour

Kelowna’s Cole Wilson started 2021 between the pipes for the North Okanagan Knights Junior B hockey team, and before the first month of the year was up, he secured his first win as a professional golfer.

The 20-year-old has been working towards a professional golf career while playing high-level hockey for several years, and with his Knights sidelined by the pandemic for the time being he decided there was no better time to make the leap.

“With COVID shutting down the hockey season it kind of gave me clarity that I should just turn pro now,” he said.

Wilson made his first professional start on the Vancouver Golf Tour Jan. 27, a single-round event at Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey. Despite playing through wintry conditions, the 20-year-old shot two under par to share first place with one other golfer.

Known as the winter tour, the event lived up to its name with rain turning to snow in 2 C weather that stuck to the greens on several holes.

The elements made for some interesting putting, which Wilson likened to building a snowman.

“You have a little snowball, you roll it in the snow making it a lot bigger. It was exactly like that with the golf ball,” he said.

Wilson was the last to tee off, starting on the back nine. He said once he’d hit his first drive down the right side of the ninth fairway he felt an aura of change; a new chapter in his career was underway.

“I felt really calm,” he said.

“By the time we got to the 10th green it had started snowing and visibility got a little low,” Wilson added. “All of us were marking our tap-ins from like one foot out because who knows how it will come off.

“I took nothing for granted and that was the key.”

READ MORE: Vernon pro to join elite women’s golf coaching program

Off to a hot start, Wilson hopes to earn PGA Tour of Canada status this year. Up next is the PGA of Canada qualifying school, which will see him ship out to Arizona from March 29 to April 2.

The co-win is the latest in a string of golfing accomplishments Wilson has put together in a short period of time. He started playing competitively just five years ago, developing his game at Kelowna’s Okanagan Golf Club. In 2019, playing as an amateur, he was the youngest competitor and only Canadian at both the Irish Men’s Open Championship and the Southern California Open — the latter America’s second-oldest golf tournament.

After transferring back from the University of Missouri Science and Technology, Wilson led his UBC Okanagan team to their first win at the 2019 USports Canada West Alberta Invitational, laying down a record-setting individual performance for the low medalist honours. He would go on to be named the MVP of the UBC Okanagan men’s golf team and was nominated for UBCO’s Male Athlete of the Year.

Wilson won the 2020 Vancouver Open Amateur Title, following the footsteps of several Canadian PGA Tour stars. Over the course of his amateur career he collected 13 wins, another 13 top-five finishes and was ranked as high as 2,777th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Though he’s now retired from hockey, his years in the crease proved his all-round athleticism. At age 15, when was first committing to golf as his main sport, he was also playing in the Yale Hockey Academy elite 15s.

Playing with the Knights in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League was a chance to have some fun in his 20-year-old season, enjoying the perks of a team sport he’ll leave behind as he pursues golf.

“One of the things that I missed most about being in a game of hockey was just the team atmosphere, the team bus trips … uniting as one and working together to achieve the same goals.” he said.

Wilson will play a single-round event on the Vancouver Golf Tour every Wednesday over the course of the winter season.

READ MORE: Shuswap golf course applies for bylaw amendment to develop up to 151 RV lots


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Golfhockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

An example of one the sounding boards the RDOS has set up to gather feedback for their first parks, trails and recreation master plan. (RDOS)
Looking for feedback from Princeton and Keremeos for park and rec plan

Sounding boards have been set up in both regions for in-person input

Al Kowalko shows off the province's first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Okanagan schools shifting gears to electric buses

Vernon, Central Okanagan, Rocky Mountain and Okanagan-Skaha on board

The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street officially opened on March 31, 2021. (Brennan Phillips)
Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District reverses funding decision on care centre

Approval now granted to fund $1 million for Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Penticton

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Upgrades will be completed on a portion of the Kettle Valley Railway trail north of Penticton. (Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen photo)
Contract awarded for improvements to trail near Penticton

Portion of Kettle Valley Railway trail will receive upgrades

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Cops for Kids riders will be spinning 30 feet in the air on scissor lifts at SaveOn Foods locations in Kelowna, Lake Country and West Kelowna Saturday, May 8, 2021. (File photo)
Cops reach new heights for Okanagan kids

Nor-Val Rentals is doing the heavy lifting Saturday in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News file)
People aged 30+ in Summerland, Rutland offered vaccine amid high transmission risk

Interior Health offers residents of Rutland and Summerland aged 30 and up chance at vaccine

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Most Read