I recently returned from Calgary, where not only did I watch the elite women of the world golf in the CP Canadian Women’s Open, I made some great connections while I was in town.
I caught up with the Golf Canada crew, Terry Lenyk, Dan Pino and Herb Fung who I had met at the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto in July. This trip I also met Peter Kirkpatrick and Garrett Ball and I had quite a good golf chat with both of them.
After telling Peter what I was doing with Fairways he suggested he put me in touch with Martin Barnard, the CEO of Golf Canada Foundation. Afterwards, Garrett, while noting he felt both exhausted and lazy after I told him what I had been up to the last four months, said exactly the same thing.
This was my first LPGA event so I introduced myself and had a golf chat with Matt Haas from the LPGA.
Everything with Fairways is growing organically so when people are amazed at the work we have done to date, I am a little surprised as I live Fairways. I take a step back and think about everything we have achieved in four months and I am rather impressed Jeremy White, my COO, and myself along with advice from a few consultants have gotten Fairways to where it is today.
To date we have 10 juniors sponsored on PEI, have arranged a three day coaching clinic for juniors in West Bengal, India and are arranging to help Edwin Fernandez in Bolivia set up a junior golf clinic for troubled youth – I was only connected with Edwin after chatting with Yvonne at Glencoe Golf and Country Club while I was in Calgary. Stay tuned as I will be blogging about Bolivia shortly.
I had a good golf chat with one of the volunteers, Rod Garland, early in the morning and by the afternoon when I saw him again he had looked at our website and complimented me on the work we were doing for juniors all around the world.
Tuesday and my round with fellow golf blogger, Josh Struckoff, author of the Golf Is Mental blog, was postponed until Friday due to tree snapping wind so I spent the whole day at Priddis Greens. I started my morning chatting with Bill Graveland from The Canadian Press – we talked golf, travel, writing and curling before I headed out to watch the ladies practice.
I met Tournament Chairman Baz Wheeler scooting around and we talked all things golf. He told me he kind of hates me after I told him how many courses I have played in two years. I hitched a ride with Baz to the 17th and as he sped off to chat with more volunteers, I headed into the warmth of the media centre.
Calgary is cold but on the Wednesday when I was golfing at Glencoe Golf and Country Club the sun was out and the wind had died down and it was a perfect day for golf.
I had been put in touch with Superintendent Kerry Watkins as Gordon Moir from St Andrews is a mutual friend. Kerry had the pleasure of working with Gordon at The British Open (not sure what year) that was held in the golf utopia that is St Andrews.
I was early for my round and chatted with Yvonne in the pro shop (who connected me with Edwin in Bolivia) before I headed to the starter and met my playing partners, Brock and Jo. We had a brief chat while we waited for Kerry.
Brock is one of the Assistant Superintendents at Glencoe Golf and Country Club and Jo is on the Board of Directors. We decided to play match play, girls vs boys, with all of us playing from the same tees.
We had a fantastic time as we chatted and laughed and golfed. I told them about Fairways and Kerry asked what they could do to help us and I told them about the Fairways’ Summer Solstice Golf Challenge Fundraiser that will be happening worldwide in June - please contact us if you would like to run an event at your course and challenge yourself to see how many holes you can play from sunrise to sunset.
We played The Meadows course and while golfing it was decided that Jo and I would continue on and play The Forest course. We had a short break between rounds and I had the chance to chat with General Manager, Mike Kenney who had a brief outline of who I was and I elaborated on his request. He was quite impressed with our mission and asked me what I would like from Glencoe Golf and Country Club. I mentioned the Summer Solstice Challenge and said perhaps they could host a fundraiser to help us implement our junior programs.
Following the round I received an email from Kerry saying “ That was one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf I have had in recent memory. I’m glad you got to meet the company’s GM Mike Kenney who was very enthralled with what you are doing. I was thrilled to hear everything you had to say about your mission with growing the game with kids who otherwise probably would not take up the game globally. What a meaningful story for the world of golf”.
I was chuffed to receive the email as sometimes working so hard on something you lose sight of the bigger picture and it grounded me, keeping me driven.
Thursday was wet and stormy and I decided to stay inside for a bit while golf went on all around me in the wet. Dan Pino, Director of Corporate Communications of Golf Canada, took a seat in one of the comfy chairs for press conferences and I decided to join him while getting Bill from Canadian Press to take a photo. We had a golf chat and I was introduced to Duncan Mills who runs junior tournaments all over Alberta.
He told us the story of Ethan Choi a 14yr old who had shot 59 in the Alberta Bantam Championship. Amazing. He shot six birdies and an eagle on the front nine to turn in 28 strokes – what fantastic golf!
We had a chat about junior golf for a bit as the sky opened up. I was quite happy sitting inside considering I had canvas shoes on – I must admit I had gumboot envy today.
When the rain subsided I headed out and met up with Jo (who I golfed with the previous day) and we watched a tiny bit of golf before the siren sounded and everyone was cleared from the course because of lightning.
We headed to find shelter and watch the storm pass while we chatted with every second person – Jo seems to know every golfer in Calgary. She gave them a brief introduction about who I was and insisted I tell them all about Fairways.
The storm had set in for a few hours so Jo headed off as I was chatting with Adam from Golf Town. We spoke many times during the tournament about all things golf. I kept him updated on the Bolivia connection that was developing daily since I had played at Glencoe.
I headed out of the rain and back to the media centre and one of the journalists passed my desk stopped and said “Weren’t you golfing at Glencoe yesterday?” Well spotted. I had a chat with Laurence who is a freelance writer for The Canadian Press and moonlights as a starter at Glencoe.
Due to the rain delay, there was lots of golf to be played when I left but I was back early the next morning while the first round was still being completed.
I arrived early, as I was off to golf again myself that afternoon at Calgary Golf and Country Club with Josh and his wife Beth. I had also been in contact with Sean Thompson who is the assistant pro at Calgary as he went to school with Gordon Moir’s son and he told me to look him up while I was in town.
We had spoken the night before about what I was doing in town and about Fairways and of course golf in Scotland before arranging to meet the following day prior to golfing with Josh and Beth.
The weather was again perfect for golf and watching the ladies throw darts inspired me and I hoped that I was absorbing their skills by osmosis.
I spent the morning chatting to volunteers and spectators all over the course about Fairways and what I am doing so far from Australia. I photographed the support of the Canadians as it was Red and White Day and the majority of people donned their red and white. Even most of the golfers were wearing red or white – and most were not Canadian.
I was wearing my PEI’s Finest Golf jacket (with a red shirt underneath) and that too was a conversation starter and as people reminisced about the great golf they had played on Prince Edward Island they asked my golf story so I told them about Fairways and upon request gave out my cards.
In the afternoon I headed off to Calgary Golf and Country Club and had a wonderful afternoon with Josh and Beth. I think I had been reading Josh’s blog since I started mine as his popped up in my feed because we have the same topic – our love for golf.
Although I was only meeting them for the first time that day I had in fact known Josh for nearly two years. They are fantastic golfers and while I was duffing shots they were playing with precision. We had a great golf chat while we played as we discussed global golf, juniors, ladies and the changes that are happening with the golfing market.
Saturday was back to Priddis Greens to watch the ladies. Everyday I start by heading to the driving range and putting greens to watch the drills they practice and by the end of the week know all the volunteers by sight at the range.
I also seem to make friends with other volunteers around the course and catch up with them as I cruise past.
After watching the elite ladies I was on my way to the media centre when I stopped for a chat with Adam from Golf Town then decided to have a look in the pro shop at what shoes they had in stock. I had some issues with my Footjoys and wanted to see what else was in stock.
Before I even got inside I started chatting with Ryan who works as an assistant in the shop. He is currently finishing university (due to finish in May) and we got talking about golf and Fairways and I told him about the development with the Bolivia program and he asked me where I would be in May.
Good question – with what we have completed in five months who knows what else we will have going on in May. Ryan asked me if he could come and help us once he finishes university as he will have some time and is not sure what is next for him but loves the idea of getting more children golfing globally and would like to help us achieve that. I gave him one of my cards and told him to stay in touch.
Then I was back in the media centre watching lots of the ladies – I’m not sure what I prefer, being outside watching it live, or seeing lots of holes at once. I would have missed Amy Yang’s eagle on the 18th if I was not in the media centre but I do love watching golf live.
Ariya Jutanugarn was leading and by the end of Saturday she looked in fine form – even with a slight limp as she favoured her knee injury.
Sunday was another great day for golf and I met lots of characters from Paul in his head to toe red and white ensemble to the lady decked out in her Mountie uniform – I got a very Canadian photo with both. It turns out the Mountie (I do not recall her name) was born on PEI so we chatted about that before she headed off for her official duties giving out trophies etc.
I had a wonderful day watching the final stages of the golf and photographing and talking golf with everyone I met. I had a good chat with Wade who was at autograph alley and he had taken a week off work to volunteer at the golf and I told him I was doing the same. Networking and marketing for Fairways as I wrote and tweeted for my Fairway Foodie website. Wade loves what Fairways is about, asked for my details and wants to tell all his golf friends about us.
That is exactly what we need. More people talking about what we are doing which will help us generate more sponsorship money so we can get more children golfing globally.
After chatting with Wade I headed in to watch the end of the golf in the media centre. The calibre of the golf on display was outstanding. Japanese golfer Ayako Uehara got a hole in one on the 8th to match the hole in one she got yesterday on the 11th.
As I caught up with Edwin from Bolivia via Facebook, Garrett Ball and Scott Simmons (CEO of Golf Canada) sat beside me and we had a brief chat before I went back to tweeting what I was watching.
As Scott headed off to get ready for the trophy ceremony Garrett I got chatting. He told me he felt lazy after hearing about Fairways first four months and told me golf needs more people like me.
A very nice thing to say and he then followed that saying he would connect me with the Golf Canada Foundation to discuss available funding for golf programs.
By this time Ariya Jutanugarn was holing out, matching the -23 best round record set by So Yeon Ryu in 2014.
As Ariya was heading into the media centre I didn’t go green side but stayed chatting with Garrett and as he left I went back to tweeting while I waited for the 2016 champion to arrive.
I love Ariya’s attitude to golf – new attitude that is. She said that while last year she missed 10 cuts in a row she changed her thinking to only focus on what is under her control.
Last week she was planning on withdrawing from the tournament due to injury but on arrival in Canada her knee felt ok Monday and Tuesday so she decided to play. After winning $337,500 I am sure she is pleased she played.
After winning five of her last ten tournaments, the key to her success is simply “…the main thing is to be happy on the course”.
While I may not be a golfer of her calibre she certainly shares my attitude – I am unreservedly happy with a fairway under my feet, regardless of how I am hitting them.
And I want to share my passion through Fairways.