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Banks named to national amateur golf team

GAINESVILLE, FL – While the rest of the Canada’s golfing community found out the news on Thursday afternoon, Eric Banks was hitting a few balls.

It was two weeks ago when he learned he’d been selected as one of five golfers nationwide to represent Canada in men’s amateur competition.

The appointment marks a return to the team after two years’ absence from the national program, which he first joined at the age of 15.

“It’s pretty weird actually,” the 22-year-old Truro native chuckled. “I first joined the development team in Grade 10, and now to be one of the older guys on the men’s team – I’ve kind of gone from youngest to the oldest.”

It’s been a busy few months for Banks, who graduated from the University of Florida in the spring. He racked up top-25 finishes at the Northeast Amateur, Canadian Amateur and Monroe Invitational. The whole time, the national team was on his mind.

“I knew I had a pretty good shot if I played well over the summer and turned in some solid performances. But it was nice to know it paid off.”

It’s all part of a bigger plan for Banks, who has eyed professional golf for years. Being on the five-man national team puts him in prime position to be one of three Canadians selected for the 2016 World Amateur Golf Championships in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, next September. From there, his plan is to head to qualifying school to earn his pro card and a spot on the WebMD Tour.

To keep close to his goals, Banks chose to remain in Florida for the winter. Unlike when he was a member of the national team before, this time his focus will be solely on golf.

“I think not being in school this time around will make things different. I have more time to go to put into golf now and I’m able to go to more tournaments... And I think I’m more mature now that I’m two years older and I have a better understanding of the game.”

Through it all, qualifying school will be waiting for him at the end of the road. Several of his friends and former teammates are going through it now, but he wants to be sure he’s ready. He looks at Austin Connelly, Canada’s latest up-and-comer to turn pro at 18, and admires his talent but is glad he didn’t try the same path.

“(Q-school) is definitely on my mind a lot of the time,” he said. “It’s something you do whenever you feel ready for it. It can happen at any age. Austin Connelly, he’s only 18, but he felt he was ready so he did it. That’s fine for him, but it’s not for everyone. You have to know when you’re ready.”

The decision will be an individual one, but in the meantime, Banks will enjoy one more year of amateur play and the camaraderie that comes with it.

“When I’m a Gator, I’m part of a team. With the national team it’s the same way. It’s always nice to have a uniform on and feel a part of something bigger than just yourself.”



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