From the time he was an infant, 13-year-old Arlen DesChamp has always been around the game of golf.
Before he could even walk, he toured the fairways, bunkers and greens of the Prince Rupert golf course with his father Trevor.
Trevor said he would carry his nine-month-old son on his shoulders with him when he went to the Prince Rupert golf course to play.
“I’d set him down, then hit my ball and pick him back up and we’d go,” Trevor said. “So he’s been out here for quite a while.”
A Sunday evening visit to the course was a semi-regular family outing. Trevor would rent a cart and bring snacks and the family would enjoy a few holes together.
“We’d go and munch around and they’d love it,” he said. “And you’d let them drive the cart for a little bit and make it exciting for them.”
A golf club can always be found somewhere in the DesChamp house, and Trevor said Arlen is usually practicing his swing and possibly breaking something.
“He’ll keep swinging and swinging and swinging and breaking things,” Trevor said.
This early exposure planted a love for golf in Arlen that has gradually developed into a deep passion for the game and aspirations of playing it professionally.
He also has the game to match his ambitions. While he is still growing, Arlen has developed an excellent short game and mental toughness that could serve him well.
“He may not have the length right now, but he can play with anyone with his short game,” Trevor said.
Arlen said he grew to love the game because it’s an individual sport that can be different every time he plays.
“One day you could play good, and then the next day you could play horrible,” he said. “I really got hooked because you can come out and play whenever you want. It’s not like hockey where you have to wait for ice time. In golf, you can just come out and play with your buddies whenever you want.”
Arlen is also a student of the game. He is well acquainted with golf history and spends time learning about the great players and their statistics. He said his favourite player is Tiger Woods even though he is too young to have seen his dominance in person.
Instead, Arlen draws his inspiration from clips and videos he finds on the Internet in the same way a young basketball fan might obsess over YouTube clips of Michael Jordan in his prime.
Trevor said Arlen even knows about unknown prospects who might become future PGA tour stars.
“He wants to know about the history, who has won major, who is doing what. He’ll tell me about a guy coming out of the Web.com tour who is the next big thing,” Trevor said. “He reads and studies it all.”
Trevor said he thinks his son has a chance to make it as a professional, but he has to play against stiffer competition if he wants to take his game to the next level.
“The problem he has is that he’s a good golfer so he has a hard time playing with kids his own age because they’re not there yet,” he said.
Arlen is currently a member of the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour which hosts tournaments throughout the province. While he has achieved top-5 finishes in several of those events, participating in the tour requires a lot of traveling since Prince Rupert is so remote.
“The travel can be pretty heavy,” Trevor said.
In Prince Rupert, Arlen is not afraid to mix it up against the big boys, competing in the 50th annual Men’s Jubilee Tournament at the Prince Rupert Golf Club from Friday, June 16 to Sunday, June 18.
Despite playing against older, more experienced competition, the athlete was able score 91, 82 and 83 in his three rounds of play to finish 6th in his handicap category.
Arlen was the youngest athlete to compete in the tournament, a credit to both his maturity and passion for the game. While he has played in tournaments before, this was his first time competing against men, and while he was nervous to start, he eventually found his rhythm and comfort zone.
Despite his success, Arlen is his own worst critic, and acknowledged that his mental game is a weakness that needs improvement. He said as he gains experience, he is learning not to let a bad round stick with him for too long.
“I’ve learned that because every round is different, I’m not always going to be playing bad,” he said.
“I can come out the next round and shoot 72.”