THUNDER BAY – Barry Caland wasn’t sure he’d ever find his way into the Staal Foundation Open.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying.
But injuries and age had seemingly caught up to Caland, who dominated the local golf scene for solid decade or more, capturing seven Strathcona Invitational titles, four District Amateurs and two District Opens, not to mention four Pro-Am wins and taking top spot three times in the Tournament of Champions.
In fact, in 2012, at 42, Caland announced he was walking away from the competitive side of the game, the will and motivation required to stay on top giving way to his desire to spend time with his family, in particular his young son Evan.
Ironically, it’s that same son who motivated him to return to golf.
Last month the decision paid off.
Caland fired a 4-over 76 in brutal conditions to capture the Thunder Bay District Golf Association’s local Staal Foundation Open qualifier, earning him a spot in this week’s field.
Now 48, Caland, isn’t worried about winning.
It’s about something a little more personal.
“My goal is to have my kid watching on 18 and to get announced on Sunday, that’d be the dream,” he said.
A five-time club champion at Whitewater Golf Club, Caland has plenty of experience inside the ropes at the Staal Foundation Open, caddying current PGA Tour member Corey Conners to a third-place finish in 2015 and second place a year later.
Those 144 holes on the bag of one of Canada’s top young golfers, should prove invaluable this week, he said.
“You learn this course plays different than I play it every day of the week,” Caland said. “It runs firmer, the greens are faster. I’m not scared of it, actually it’s more fun. I don’t hit it quite near as good as Corey does, but seeing how the guys do it, you take some of that, how they hit to certain spots and you try to keep a mental image of it.
“Seeing how they play the course under those conditions and having played it a few days like that, hopefully it helps.”
As for his game, Caland said he’s pretty content with where it’s at heading into the tournament.
“I’m close, very, very close to playing really good. It takes trust.”
Caland tees off Thursday on the 10th hole at 2 p.m., playing in a group with Whitewater head professional Matt Simmons and Canada’s Joey Savoie. Thunder Bay's Walter Keating, Jr., Jeremy Kirk and Evan De Grazia are also in the field.