Golf: Opportunities Needed

Golf Ontario announced initial plans for the Ontario Disability Golf Championship last November as part of a plan for more inclusion at a provincial level.

Ten dollars changed my life.

Seriously.

That was the fee my parents paid for my first junior golf membership. Decades later I still work in golf, have been blessed to share many stories, and share my love of the sport as a PGA Golf Professional.

All because of an opportunity.

You can only step through these doors in your life if an opening exists.

I was reminded of this recently at a funeral for a friend’s father, a man I originally met on the golf course. I didn’t know his full life story but when I heard it, I was in awe.

He’d grown up under apartheid in South Africa. Life was full of hardships for a man of Indian descent born in the 1930s. By the time of his death, at age 86, he had lived a full life in Canada as a family doctor for more than five decades. He welcomed babies into the world and guided many people in their lives. He also loved golf, but that’s another story.

It would never have happened if a supportive community had not raised the money to send him from South Africa to medical school in Ireland.

An opportunity.

People talk about growing the game of golf but for many, the words are hollow. To change the sport requires action.

And it’s happening; but we need more of it.

For the last five years, we have seen the Drive, Chip, and Putt competition allow young juniors to compete on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club. It’s something we never thought would happen.

Add into that the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship. It was an outright success. It had a record audience and will surely inspire many young golfers to play the game.

At a professional level, we are seeing greater equality for men and women at events like the Vic Open in Australia and the recently created Mixed Open in Jordan.

You can also see it in your local communities where people are stepping up to put the needs of others ahead of their own in programs to help youth and others. It’s fantastic to see.

In Ontario, after much effort, we have witnessed the creation of the Ontario Disabilities Championship. Golf is also now a massive sport within the Special Olympics, at a worldwide scale.

Golf, slowly, is realizing that to be the best game possible it needs a wider reach. Long the bastion of the older, white male, it has much to offer everyone. But that needs a little (and sometimes a big one) push to make it fully bloom.

Of course, this is not about what many would call “special interests”, for golf to thrive in any way it needs advocates in all corners; it requires people to push it forward. To lead, to plan, to volunteer, to create the opportunities other can embrace.

Ask any top golfer in the world and they will tell you that they got to where they are because of many things. Often that tale will include the effort of a person, or an organization, that helped out along the way.

So, if you care about golf and want to see the game thrive, think about stepping forward in some way this season (or when you’re ready). If the game has given to you, consider giving back equally. 

Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.

Be the latter when it comes to golf.

Thank you, in advance, of your effort to make our game better.

Scott MacLeod, Associate Publisher