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Audrey Bendick-Akins

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Audrey Bendick-Akins

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Date of Birth: 1967-03-20

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Audrey Bendick was an elite amateur golfer in the 1980s. The youngest ever Canadian Junior Golf Champion, she also won the Ontario Amateur title, captained the University of Oklahoma’s Golf Team, and won a gold medal at the 1986 Commonwealth Games as a member of Team Canada.

Bendick was born on March 20, 1967 in Windsor, where she attended Parkview Elementary and Kennedy Collegiate Institute.

Bendick was first introduced to golf when her father brought her to the “shorty” (par-three) course at Roseland Golf and Country Club. She was five years old. Two years later, Bendick attended a clinic at Silver Tee Golf Centre conducted by Bob Panasik, Windsor’s Professional Golf Association tour member. Panasik noted potential in the seven-year-old golfer and referred her to his father Nick, who owned and taught lessons at Hydeaway Golf Club. Bendick took his advice and quickly benefited from the elder Panasik’s tutelage.

In 1975, Bendick won a tournament for players 8 to 12 years of age in Quincy, Illinois. The following year, she became Essex-Kent District Champion in the 8 to 11 age group. She teamed with Bob Panasik to win the 1978 Buick Open in Toronto, a Pro-Junior tournament. She finished second at the 1979 Essex-Kent Girls Tournament.

In 1980, still only 13, Bendick won at London Sunningdale Golf Club to become the youngest ever Canadian Junior Champion. She posted rounds of 77, 77, and 78 during the three-day event. That same year, she teamed with Bob Panasik to win a second Buick Open Pro-Junior Championship, where she was also the Girls Low Medalist. She finished in the top 10 at the Ontario Juniors en route to becoming the third-ranked Junior in the country.

Bendick finished second at the 1981 Ontario Junior Championships.

Bendick debuted on the international golf circuit in 1982, aged 15. She participated in the World Junior Tournament in San Diego, held that year at Torrey Pines Golf Club. She shot four rounds in the mid-70s to finish as Low International Medallist and 11th out of 200 golfers overall. She won the Essex-Kent Girls Tournament and returned to the Canadian Junior Championships, where she finished fourth.

Bendick won three consecutive Michigan Junior Championships in 1980, ’81, and ’82.

In 1983, Bendick had a successful enough season to win the Windsor Optimist Club’s Athlete of the Year award. She finished first at the Ontario Match Play Championships, second at the Ontario Junior Championship, and third at the Canadian Juniors. Appropriately, she ended the year ranked second in the province and third in the country.

Bendick became Essex-Kent District Champion for the second time in 1984. She finished second at the Ontario Juniors that year and won a full athletic scholarship to Oklahoma University.

In 1985, Bendick became the Canadian Junior Champion for a second time. She set a single-round course record at the Ken-Wo course near Halifax, Nova Scotia by shooting a 72. She finished second at the Ontario Junior Championships but finished the year as the top-ranked Junior in Canada. She won another Essex-Kent Girls Championship and placed fourth at the all-ages Ontario Amateur. She also reached the quarterfinals of the USA Western Junior Championships in Wisconsin.

Bendick represented Canada for the first time in 1986, winning a team gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand. She played alongside the future LPGA golfers Jennifer Wyatt and Gail Anderson. Bendick also won the Ontario Amateur, held in Peterborough, and competed in the British Match Play Tournament. Golfing for Oklahoma, she won two Low Medalist titles in NCAA Tournaments in Florida and Texas.

The following year, Bendick finished second at the Ontario Amateur. She was named Captain of the Oklahoma University Golf Team and played herself into the top 40 of the NCAA individual rankings.

In 1988, Bendick was again a member of Team Canada, this time at the World Amateur in Sweden. She finished the tournament as the Canadian Low Medalist and placed 20th overall. She made the cut at the British Match Play Tournament, and placed second at the Ontario Amateur. In this her final year at Oklahoma, she was second Low Medalist at the NCAA Big 8 Championships and Low Medalist at the Ohio State Invitational. She finished the year as the number-three Amateur in Ontario.

Bendick graduated from Oklahoma University in the spring of 1989 with a Bachelor of Education. She returned to Windsor to take a Master’s of Education from the University of Windsor in ’91. Although her golf career had largely ended, she managed to compete in a few Futures Tour tournaments between ’90 and ’92.

Bendick married Donald Atkins in 1994. The couple now has two children: one boy and one girl. In ’99, Bendick accepted a position with the Windsor Board of Education at Riverside Secondary School.

 

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