Golf Is All Of Us – #GolfCanadaGolf Shares Why

Dixon Entrance GC lies along the pacific coast in Haida Gwaii

For way too long a lot of people and organizations talked about growing the game of golf but often that meant growing their role in golf.  It’s natural for everyone to look out for their own interests but in some cases everyone gains if they work together.

You can witness it with the new #GolfCanadaGolf initiative that is currently rolling out across the country.  It is funded by a number of groups but who they are is less important than what they are doing. One board member (who is a staff member with a provincial golf association) said to me in a discussion last week, ‘This is not about us, or them, it is about all of us.  You don’t see any branding except GolfCanadaGolf; it’s about doing what is right to promote the game in Canada.

The avenue for that promotion is an emotional one.  It involves putting stories of business and statistics on the back burner and tapping into something more primal.

Golf captures most of us in a way that can often be hard to explain.  It makes us feel – good, bad, proud, excited, defeated, exhilarated, and so much more.  It ties us to our friends, our families, our lives.

The key message of the campaign says “Everyone Has A Story”.  They want golfers to share those stories and inspire others to think about golf – in ways they may never have thought of, have forgotten about in the hectic rush of daily life, or always dreamed the game could be.

You owe it to yourself to visit the new website – GolfCanadaGolf.ca and view the stories of Gerry, Todd, Paul, and Vince..and share your story as well.

On a personal note the story of Vince (see video below) hits home for me.  You see, although I started playing the game of golf in Saskatchewan (on sand greens) it really took hold of me as a 14 year-old living in Haida Gwaii.

This remote series of islands off the coast of northern British Columbia was once the home of a military base which brought my family there, to the town of Masset.  I was overjoyed to learn they had a golf course – the Dixon Entrance Golf Club, one of two in the archipelago. (The other was the Willows GC on Moresby Island which Vince leases and manages)

For three years in the mid-1980’s it became my second home.  Eventually I worked there.

This was a community golf course.  Members could often be found cutting fairways or lending a hand to maintain the trailer that constituted a clubhouse. Each summer the club would hire two teenagers to maintain the course – that was the extent of the staff.  No pro, no starter, no food and beverage operation.  If you wanted to buy a drink or golf balls you grabbed them out of the padlocked fridge and left your money in a cup.  Every member had the combination. The fridge has now been upgraded – to a vending machine.

When I was not cutting grass I was completing endless loops on the par 33 course that is set on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.  It was beautiful.  On a clear day (certainly not the norm) you could see mountain tops 30 kilometres across the water in the Alaskan panhandle.  It was not uncommon to stand on the 7th tee, on a hole that ran parallel to the ocean beach, and see pods of whales swimming by..  The sandy soil and tight turf was perfect for golf..much like the linksland where the game was founded in Scotland.

It was a powerful place for a young teen with a passion for golf.  It was a simple, rough, form of golf but it gave me a glimmer of hope. It inspired me to pursue a career, and a life in the game.

These days the military base is gone, and so too is much of the logging business on Haida Gwaii.  The two golf courses remain but they struggle to survive.

Vince is doing his best to make that happen.  He has united the courses in their efforts to promote golf.  He found a sponsor and now any child who has an interest is welcomed to play golf…for free. (Read more at GolfHaidaGwaii at this link)

This week he has brought British Columbia Golf to Haida Gwaii.  Executive Director Kris Jonasson and the Director of School Golf, Kathy Gook, are visiting and conducting clinics for school children and the community.  It’s likely the first formal golf instruction every given on the islands; I know it is something I could have only dreamed of three decades ago.

I’m looking forward to a phone call with Vince tomorrow. Not only to take a stroll down memory lane but to thank him.

For golfers of the future,

…and for the 14 year-old me.