Nathan Crosby, Sports Editor Ω
Riley Balson plays golf during the day and dreams about it at night.
He reaches goals on the course and in the classroom.
He creates opportunities for himself on the fairway and in his busy work life.
He plays golf because he loves it and his determination is setting his team up for a great finish in the PAC WEST rankings.
Going into the final weekend of play at the Chiliwack Golf and Country Club, Balson was ranked fourth in the league.
It started at age 10 with his friends at MacArthur Island Park.
No lessons, no private instructor, but just practice made Balson the golfer he is today.
“I’ve just done my own thing,” he said.
“Bill (Bilton, Jr.) has been really good with my mental game, being smart, taking the right type of shots at the right time and staying committed mentally.”
On the weekend of Sept. 24, Balson’s game reached another level, finishing second at the Quail golf course in Kelowna.
Not only did he not play a practice round at Quail, he had never even played the course before.
“I didn’t really get to prepare much but that was a good weekend for me. I found that golf course pretty easy and it turned out all right,” he said.
He finished with a 36-hole total of 141, tying for second spot with Matt Matheson of Capilano College.
Balson said his success stems from being prepared.
“It all starts the night before. Going to bed early, getting ready in the morning, having a good breakfast is part of being prepared.”
On the side, Balson is a referee in the BCIHL and Junior ‘B hockey league.
His ability to stay committed to his interests is what makes his character strong.
A career as a hockey referee is not out of the question.
“I want to do that as much as I can and move up and progress with my referee career, I want to go as far as I can with it,” he said.
Playing hockey also contributed to his growth as an athlete.
He played up to Bantam ‘AA, but then decided his focus would be golf.
“It’s my first love,” he said.
Balson is also looking to the future outside of sports and has set himself up with many options for life after school.
He is in the residential construction program and would like to make a living from what he has learned in his time at TRU.
“Having something to fall back on is the most important thing,” he said.
Like every athlete, he wouldn’t be here without his inspirations.
“My parents, their support is so great. Coach Bill (Bilton, Jr.) is pretty inspiring, he helps out a lot.”
The support from his family and coach made a profound impact on Balson’s game, and his team is benefiting from it.
The WolfPack finished second at the Bear Mountain Golf Tournament in Victoria on the first weekend of October, one stroke behind Camosun College.
Although golf isn’t known as a team game, the WolfPack are putting together a great season.
In school and golf, Balson lives by the advice he gives young golfers: never give up on a round, and always give yourself options.