Local course plays host to FNC

Branded a big success, the First Nations Cup (FNC) golf event achieved a number of firsts in 2016.

Team members from the Onion Lake First Nation watch as the pairing from the Saddle Lake First Nation finish off their putts at the 9th hole to complete their round on Saturday

Team members from the Onion Lake First Nation watch as the pairing from the Saddle Lake First Nation finish off their putts at the 9th hole to complete their round on Saturday

Branded a big success, the First Nations Cup (FNC) golf event achieved a number of firsts in 2016.

Among the largest aboriginal golf team events in Canada, the FNC made its first ever stop at the Wolf Creek Golf Resort with its six-day three event format from Aug. 2 to 7. This was the FNC’s 16th edition of its men’s team tournament and the fifth year it hosted a junior event, but the first time it had brought the ladies on board. The ladies had held a separate similar event for the past four years.

This year the men’s event was taken by Beardy’s & Okemasis Willow Cree First Nation from Saskatchewan with the ladies event won by the Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation located west of Edmonton while the junior event title went to Onion Lake First Nation, which is situated along the Alberta/Saskatchewan border north of Lloydminster.

Organizer Andrew Fox explained the event’s concept was to bring First Nations together more than they have done so far.

“At the time, there just seemed to be something missing. The first nation tournaments before then were just about individuals playing for themselves,” said Fox.

“Our intent was to bring them together and have them representing their nation. Once they are here, a lot of them are getting a taste of what I mean for the first time and can better understand what it means to be part of something larger, bigger than just themselves, part of their nation.”

For the first few years, the tournament drew just six to eight teams. However, interest has exploded more recently with the event now filled attracting teams from first nations spanning the three prairie provinces with a list of teams waiting to get in on the action.

Fox added the plan is to continue to grow and expand the event.

“Our ultimate goal is to allow more growth in this event, adding more junior and ladies teams plus eventually expanding the number of men’s teams,” he said.

“We are hoping to soon move toward a format that will see the FNC rotate annually between several courses that can help us do that, which Wolf Creek certainly can with its two courses. This being our first time here, you can really see how being here could allow growth like that and they have been fantastic with us. They do a great job with a great product here and there has been not one negative thing to say. They are very professional and great hosts who did everything possible for us.”

The team event ran on the modified stableford scoring system which involves handing out points for the number of strokes taken with the aim at having the highest score possible.

The 2017 FNC will run at Wolf Creek from Aug. 1 to 6.