As the sun sets on my final round of golf with Edwin in Bolivia, I am happy and positive and determined. Not just because Edwin couldn’t best me (I must say here that I am 1 up in our match play that has been going pretty much my whole visit).
While there has been many trials and tribulations during my nine weeks in Bolivia, change has to occur and I will drive the change. Why not? Someone has to do it!
I was very upset to learn that Ale who played so well in his first ever tournament and came in 4th place will not have any points attributed to him due to a technicality. As he was playing under the umbrella of the Federación Boliviana de Golf, apparently he does not have any status as he is not registered. We have sorted this for the next tournament he will be playing in La Paz but I know how disappointed he will be that his efforts have been fruitless and his 4th place doesn’t count.
I look back on my time here, the learning, understanding and new friendships and while it has been very challenging at times, I know it is something I had to do.
To live it is to understand Bolivia.
I have made golf friends in La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and plan to continue helping all of them in any way I can.
Golf is changing around the world as golfing bodies adapt to meet the needs of the new golf consumer. While relatively new to golf myself (I started in July 2014), I seem to end up in the right place at the right time, and following a few previous serendipitous meetings in Scotland and Hawaii, this trip to Bolivia has seen connected me with both the PGA LatinoAmerica Tour and the R&A.
In April I will be returning to Ballyliffin Golf Club on the north coast of Ireland where I had the idea to start Fairways last year. As we move towards our first birthday I look back and reflect on the work we have done.
We have juniors in Canada, India, Nepal and Bolivia and it is the grassroots golfers I have met who are our biggest advocates. From Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even just my turning up to events around the world and just talking to people. I don’t have a golf background so I am doing things my own way (with my COO, Jeremy, channelling my energy and the Board of Directors guiding us).
We want anyone to be able to golf, regardless of where they happen to be born.
Some of my last blogs have documented my struggles in Bolivia as at times I feel I am drowning financially as I continue to put everything I have into Fairways. I have spent hours researching grow the game grants and various other sponsorship opportunities to try and keep my head above water until our DAWN2DUSK fundraiser in June, but because we're operating globally don’t quite fit the requirements for any program. They are all regional.
We are doing things differently, and different is ok.
I am continually thinking of ways I can continue growing Fairways in order to ensure that not only do our current programs continue to prosper, but that we have growth in other parts of the world.
It is happening.
I was recently contacted on Twitter by Cam Fawns, who has been reading our blogs and following my tweets, and asked how he could help. We are going to work together to help underprivileged juniors in Calgary. We had a 40 minute conversation not only are we both passionate about junior golf, but we also happen to be Australians who moved to Canada.
From impromptu contacts like Cam, to Snell Golf Canada donating balls to us last year and tweeting about us:
People are noticing.
If you love what we do, help us by hosting a fundraiser at your club on the 21st June 2017. So far we have 20 golf clubs lined up around the world to host a fundraiser on that day. I would love to double that and have 40 clubs involved tweeting and golfing up a storm for underprivileged junior golfers globally.
Contact us to find out how you can start your own fundraiser. I should also mention that whichever club, group or individual, raises the most money, will win a genuine St. Andrews Old Course 8th hole Open Championship flag. The flag is signed by Tom Watson, Sandy Lyle, Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman and John Daly, and was very kindly donated by Gordon Moir from St Andrews.
Share this with your crazy golfing mates who may want to see if they can beat me.
Last year I played 83 holes of golf, this year I am going for 100.
There are so many things that can be done to help grow the game at a grassroots and while I have seen a lot of talk about the best way to do things, I am just out there making it up as I go along.
Flying-in to countries on a whim and simply getting amongst it seems to be working.
Next stop. Ireland.