Golf Tour’s 2021 champion, Kelly Becker, shakes hands with a cardboard cutout of sportscaster Jim Nantz after his win. (Contributed)

Golf Tour’s 2021 champion, Kelly Becker, shakes hands with a cardboard cutout of sportscaster Jim Nantz after his win. (Contributed)

Golf Tour 2021: Tongue-in-cheek Shuswap tournament a source of lifelong friendships

Trophy given to champions of the tournament is the prestigious Golden Toilet

Two rows of golfers face each other, holding their clubs stretched over their heads to form a tunnel.

A man with bagpipes starts playing and walks through, followed by a man who looks like a golf champion due to the green jacket he’s wearing.

The spectacle seems somewhat official, if not a little odd, until you notice the trophy for the event, a golden humanoid basketball wearing a top hat and about to dunk a normal basketball into a toilet.

The prestigious Golf Tour Golden Toilet trophy. (Contributed)

Welcome to Golf Tour.

Mike Johnson has been involved with Golf Tour for almost 30 years. He said what started as a simple golf road trip with a few friends has blossomed over the years into a tournament so in-demand there’s a waiting list and sometimes even qualifiers for it.

The few friends have become many, and each year more than 20 look forward to the week-long road trip and golf tournament.

Johnson said the group has played in 20 regions across B.C. and Washington State, the most recent being the Shuswap. From a hotel home-base of Salmon Arm, they visited courses in Sicamous, Chase, Blind Bay, Salmon Arm and Kamloops throughout late July.

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Golf Tour organizers always try to arrange a trip that offers good value so all their friends can attend, and Johnson said the Shuswap area is in the top 3 areas he’s been to in terms of golf experience per dollar.

“Most of us are below-average golfers, there’s some good amateurs… even a couple of hackers,” he joked.

“It’s not about how low can you shoot, how great is your game. It’s about camaraderie and lifelong friendships.”

While many parts of Golf Tour are tongue-in-cheek and about being part of the joke — such as shaking hands with a cardboard cutout of sportscaster Jim Nantz after an ‘interview’ — that doesn’t stop competitors from going all out for the win.

Kelly Becker was this year’s champion. He said he and his friends still have a competitive edge, and competing in the tournament is how they express it.

Becker has been playing in Golf Tour for 20 years, and he said his first win came at a good time.

“It’s been a tumultuous year with lots of stuff going on,” said Becker.

“Emotionally, mentally, I think everybody helped each other get through a very strange period in history.”

The golfers of Golf Tour keep in touch year-round, which Becker said has been important lately.

As is tradition, Becker will be the host of honour at a championship dinner celebrating his win. There, he will receive his green jacket and be presented with the prestigious basketball-toilet trophy.

“It’s a blessing to be a part of something you can enjoy with friends as you get older,” said Becker, before thanking Golf Tour’s founder, John Gushue.

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Players from Golf Tour 2021 pose with the Golden Toilet trophy. (Contributed)

Players from Golf Tour 2021 pose with the Golden Toilet trophy. (Contributed)