It’s not likely that Darren Whitehouse will be the next Tiger Woods.
Or even the next Canadian golf great in the form of, say, Mike Weir or Stephen Ames.
An ace student, Darren Whitehouse will probably be, in the not-to-distant future, one of the best golf-playing lawyers in the Lower Mainland.
This fall, the 21-year-old Walnut Grove resident has led the University of Fraser Valley’s men's golf team to the top of the PACWEST (Pacific Western Athletic Association) conference.
Ranked No. 3 in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), the UFV men’s team has won its first two PACWEST events, and has a commanding lead in the overall conference standings with one event remaining, this weekend’s conference championships at the Chilliwack Golf & Country Club. The tournament runs this Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5 and 6.
UFV is already guaranteed a spot at the 2013 PING CCAA Golf National Championship at the Royal Quebec Golf Club Oct. 15-18.
Whitehouse, who graduated from Walnut Grove Secondary in 2009, is having a standout fall on the links.
For the week ending Sept. 15, he was named as one of the PACWEST golf athletes of the week, after leading UFV to a first-place finish at the UBCO Invitational at The Quail in Kelowna.
Whitehouse shot a 132 for the 36-hole tournament, helping the Cascades to a 13-stroke victory over second place Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners with a team score of 309.
“It feels, first of all, great to win as a team, but in my last year, to be able to win the tournament and be in contention as an individual to win the whole PACWEST individual championships, it feels great,” Whitehouse said.
Preceding Whitehouse’s win in Kelowna was a fourth-place result at the VIU Invitational at the Morningstar Golf Club in Nanaimo. His combined score for the two PACWEST events is nine under par, putting him at the top of the individual conference standings by a four-stroke margin.
“This has been a great year,” Whitehouse said, stressing that the most important part is that his team currently leads a conference that includes UFV, VIU, Camosun College, Thompson Rivers University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Douglas College, and UBC-Okanagan.
“It’s a solid conference,” Whitehouse said, regarding PACWEST. “There’s a lot of great individuals in the conference. A lot of kids are tending to stay around home rather than going down to the States [to play golf at the post-secondary level], so it’s really boosting the talent level.”
This lights a fire under Whitehouse.
“I find the better my competition is, the better I play,” he said.
Whitehouse’s passions are divided between golf and academics.
“I imagine I could pursue the pro route, when it comes to golf,” he said. “But I’ve always been just as fascinated with law, political science, and criminal justice. The more stable route seems more attractive to me.”
Whitehouse is a political science major with an extended minor in criminal justice, and transferred to UFV from Texas A & M Commerce because he felt he could improve his golf game while still receiving a quality education much closer to home.
“I wanted to stay at home and finish out my degree, and UFV was the college that was going to allow me to do that, and I knew I was going to get a pretty solid education there, as well,” he said.
A Dean’s List student and an Academic All-Canadian, Whitehouse has a goal of attending law school, possibly at the University of Calgary, once he graduates from UFV in 2014.
“I thought, if I’m going to attend [university] I might as well be the best I can be,” Whitehouse said, adding that he's considering the U of Calgary because it specializes in environmental law.
“It [environmental law] is something I’d consider going into later in life,” he said. “It’s something that fascinates me.”
Away from the classroom, Whitehouse started golfing at nine years of age, attending McDonald’s Kids Camps at The Redwoods Golf Course.
His first instructor remains his mentor, Doug Morgan from The Redwoods.
“I wouldn’t be here without him [Morgan],” Whitehouse said. “He’s such a pleasant guy to be around and what he’s taught me has always connected.”
Whitehouse currently hones his game by working with UFV swing coach Brad Clapp.
“I had some good years in high school [with the Walnut Grove Secondary golf team],” said Whitehouse, now in his third year with the UFV squad. “But I mostly compete as an individual in the summertime.”
While he plays for UFV, ultimately, golf is an individual sport.
“The toughest part about golf is the amount of pressure you put onto yourself,” Whitehouse said. “Then, when combine that with the team aspect, where you don’t want to let your teammates down, that’s what makes golf tough.”
The walk between shots gives players lots of time to think about their next move, which can be nerve-wracking, Whitehouse explains: “That’s where your mind can let you down. You have to persevere and stay strong.”
The payoff, putting the ball where he wants it to land, is always worth it.
“There’s nothing like standing back behind the ball before you’re about to hit, visualizing a shot, and pulling it off,” Whitehouse said.
Whitehouse says he likes to “attack” courses, playing aggressively and taking “risky shots.”
“I’m not someone who's going to just play it safe,” he said. “Sometimes it hasn’t worked out but a lot of times it has.”
During the summer, Whitehouse competed in the Canadian men’s amateur championship in Victoria, and missed the cut with a pair of 76 rounds.
“It’s nearly a 300 person field and only the top 70 make it, so it’s tough,” he said. “But it was an honour just to make it there.”
Down the road, golf will take a back seat to a possible career in law.
“If I’m able to establish myself… I’d like to come back and play some amateur golf when I get older,” he said. “But I also plan on utilizing my golf in the business world, as well, in order to market my business.”
@ Copyright 2013