Walking around the Toronto Golf Show I was happy to see a variety of booths and kiosks. As we meandered down ‘demo alley’, I spied the area for the Golf Association of Ontario. As a current member, I was drawn to their location like a moth to light. I talked to many of the hosts and hostesses about the GAO and was impressed by what they had to offer. There were two ‘Grow the Game’ initiatives presented at the Toronto Golf Show I had never heard of and after some research realized there were more worth mentioning!
The first was a pledge to play golf in 2016! The GAO provided a unique way to challenge golfers to hit the links this summer. Like all goals when written down, most people become motivated and accountable to achieve them. In the 2016 golf season, I have committed to play 80 rounds of golf. Given I have 28 weeks to achieve my goal, I think it is achievable. I will let you know when the season is over.
The second initiative was Mr. Knickers and Friends. “The Golf for Kids program has been developed by the Golf Association of Ontario as a true grassroots initiative. Designed with fun and safety as fundamentals, it gives children an opportunity to experience and learn a game that helps build character and promotes life long activity.” After some research, I found the Mr. Knickers and friends is a has two other associated programs worth mentioning.
“The CN Future Links Mobile Clinic program introduces children, ages 6 – 18, to the sport of golf by bringing the golf to where they are. The CN Future Links Mobile Van travels throughout Ontario conducting these FREE golf clinics in parks, recreation centers, at schools, and golf facilities. These clinics focus on the fundamentals of the game with FUN being a major component.”
“Offered at the Golf Association of Ontario’s Provincial Championships, Future Champions Clinics offer kids ages 5-16 a chance to learn the basics of putting, chipping and full swing. Future Champion Clinics provide kids with instruction from a PGA of Canada member, welcome gift, and an opportunity to watch some of the top Ontario Amateurs in action. Clinics are FREE of charge and are open to kids of all skill levels, equipment and materials are provided for all participants.”
The GAO did not stop at Mr. Knickers and Friends, they also developed a ‘She Swings She Scores’ program. “The Girls Club Hockey Program features four one hour sessions and a final day pizza party. Girls will learn the basics of golf; Putting, Chipping and Full Swing as well as grip, stance and ball position in a unique “girls only” setting. The program provides an opportunity for groups of friends to get together and learn golf in fun and social environment, removing the pressure of a co-ed setting which often prevents girls from participating in sports activities.”
I applaud the GAO for taking golf to the grass-roots. It is important to introduce golf to the youth of Ontario because they are the future of the game. It is easy to point to players like Brooke Henderson, Alena Sharp, David Hearn and Graham DeLaet as good news stories for golfers in Canada. However, for every top player, there are thousands of young players just enjoying the game.
‘Growing the Game’ is critical for the future success of golf in Canada. I am energized to see the GAO taking a leading role of introducing golf to young players. At the Toronto Golf Show, I talked to Mallory Dayman, Manager, Sport Development at the GAO and she said to contact her at any time if I had questions or suggestions on how to ‘Grow the Game’. I recommend you do the same if you have any suggestions. It is for the good of the game.
Thanks GAO for focusing on the future golfers in Ontario, the grass-roots is the perfect place to start!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!