Nick Cloutier loves the pressure.
And on June 19, the 35-year-old golfer is going to feel the heat like never before.
That’s when Cloutier tees up his first drive at the Alberta Open. The premiere event will be packed with the best professionals and amateurs in the province. Cloutier can hardly wait.
“I love feeling those butterflies,” he said between chips at the Jasper Park practice facility. “I love the pressure.”
To qualify for the Alberta Open, which takes place at the Sundre Golf Club June 19-22, Cloutier had to have nerves of steel at a tournament qualifier in Stony Plain. The course was soaking wet but somehow the greens stayed rock hard and bumpy. Needing to place in the top 23, Cloutier knew that a par on hole 18 could put him in contention. After he knocked in his putt, he found out that he and five others came in seven-over. He just made the cut.
“Scoring was really tough,” he said. “There were scratch golfers making 92 that day.”
Originally from Petewawa, in the Ottawa Valley, Cloutier grew up playing competitive golf. As a junior, he played for Team Quebec (his home was closer to Montreal than Toronto) and he even represented his country at World Juniors in West Palm Beach, Florida.
But that was a long time ago. When he moved to Jasper for a housekeeping job in 2002, he was drawn to the world class golf course, but tournaments weren’t really on his mind. That is until two years ago, when something inside him said it was time to get back into the game.
“It’s such a beautiful golf course here in Jasper and we have a lot of good players here too,” he said. “Those two things got my competitive juices flowing.”
The other factor was his younger brother, Ty. The pair spend a lot of time together—on the golf course in the summer, and in the winter, on the hockey rink. Ty, a former club champion here in Jasper himself, will be Nick’s caddy for the Alberta Open. Nick says he wouldn’t want anyone else on his golf bag.
“It’s cool to be able to share this experience with my brother,” he said. “Ty has really helped me get to where I want to be and where I want to be going.”
Ultimately, Cloutier would love to be going to the Canadian PGA Tour—the winner of the Alberta Open gets a free pass for one tournament. In reality, his goal is more modest.
“It’s the deepest field in golf in this province,” he said. “I’d be happy with a top 25.”
Cloutier has been long and straight off the tee; his irons have been consistent. Where he needs to continue to work is with the flat stick and around the green.
“In the long run, on the green is where tournaments are won,” he said.
Although he’s originally from Ontario, Cloutier is proud to be golfing for his adopted club. When he hears his name and the Jasper Park Golf Club announced on the first tee, he’ll try to savour the moment.
“That’s a cool feeling,” he said.