Todd Bissenden is a lot more realistic about where golf fits into his life now.
At 32 years of age, the Mount Brenton Golf Club product and longtime Chemainus resident didn’t expect to be carting away the trophy at the end of the recent Canadian Men’s Amateur Golf Championship at Duncan Meadows Golf Course. Especially since golf doesn’t occupy nearly the time it once did in his life, Bissenden simply went into the tournament to enjoy the experience and do the best he could.
In that sense, it was a huge mission accomplished because he made the cut and played very well considering he only got into the event on an exemption from Duncan Meadows’ course owners, the Huis, rather than through the qualifying process.
Bissenden’s past accomplishments in golf emerged to the forefront despite a long period of inactivity with rounds of 71, 70, 73 and 71. He went just one-over-par for the tournament overall.
“I was struggling a bit with my swing going into the tournament,” said the 2004 Chemainus Secondary School grad.
“If you’d have asked me going in I would have taken 40th out of guys who play golf all year round, I’d have taken it.”
Bissenden’s final placing could have been even higher, as he sat at three-under par at one stage in the third round.
“I had a couple of malfunctions and lost focus and had four bogeys in a row,” he explained. “I got my head back together and finished out OK.
“It was the same thing in the fourth round. I started out OK, but went to four over and had four birdies after that to finish even which was respectable after being four over.”
Bissenden was a renowned motocross rider during his youth and became a two-time national champion before switching to golf, “a little safer sport,” he said, at the age of 11. His uncle Rick Gibson, who’s been on multiple Canadian World Cup teams and easily ranks among the top 10 or 15 all-time best Canadian golfers, steered him in that direction.
“My mom’s side of the family definitely had that golf influence,” Bissenden indicated.
He proved to be a natural at it and made provincial teams at age 14 and 15.
“I had a really good last couple of years in my junior golf that got me recognized,” Bissenden noted.
He was third in B.C. and ninth in the country during his last year of junior golf at age 17. Bissenden eventually went to the University of Houston in Texas on a golf scholarship, but only stayed two years.
“I just got burnt out,” he said.
“I played so much as a teenager I just lost my enjoyment. Golf is such a mental sport. If you’re not enjoying it, you’re just not going to play well.”
Bissenden underwent a complete lifestyle change at that point and played far less golf, but always kept it on the backburner in case he wanted to rekindle it on a more casual basis. He showed those skills haven’t left him in the least based on his performance in the Canadian men’s tournament.
Bissenden took up a new pursuit working for famed wildlife and hunting adventurer Jim Shockey of Duncan for seven years.
“He’d be the biggest name in the hunting industry,” Bissenden said.
“I’ve been freelancing for the last four or five (years),” he added. “Still doing the same thing, but on my own. I like to fly under the radar. I don’t do the television stuff.”
Bissenden is on the road a lot, doing videography and guiding for adventure tours all over the world.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” he conceded. “A lot of the places I go are off the beaten path. You get to see the untouched cultures where they live the same way they did hundreds and hundreds of years ago.”
Bissenden figures he’s hunted and filmed in more than 25 different countries as a freelance videographer.
Bissenden and wife Kaitlyn, who’s from Texas, were married last year and just moved to Nanaimo to be closer to her work as a teacher at Nanaimo Christian School. It didn’t matter to Bissenden where he lived since he’s on the road so much.
But now that he’s made a successful foray back into golf, Bissenden figures he might just play the game more again as time allows.
“Definitely some more local tournaments and go play the B.C.s next year – give it a try and go out and have fun. Obviously, not get too serious with it.”
It’s all about what Bissenden calls having more “realistic expectations.”
“I’ve always been pretty good about that.”