I was recently approached by John Gotell, about his nephew, Connor. John had called in to Belfast Highland Greens and had been talking with Keir White about how Connor wasn't able to play as often as he wanted. John had been bringing Connor to the course, but was working this summer. Keir asked John if he had met me yet, and filled him in about what I had been up to, which was only setting up a not-for-profit fund, called Fairways, to sponsor disadvantaged junior golfers all over the world.
That afternoon John stopped-in to Brudenell River Golf Course, and found me while I was working. I'm working there to help pay the early Fairways bills while we set up our sponsorship mechanisms. John told me about Connor, his love for the game, his inability to get out golfing, and asked if there was anything Fairways could do to help him play the sport he loves.
As far as we are concerned if there is a child who wants to golf and the only drawback is finances, we will do whatever we can to get them golfing. That's exactly what I said to John. Following a quick skype meeting with Jeremy, Fairways' COO, I immediately contacted Anne Chouinard, the pro at Brudenell River & Dundarave golf courses. We arranged for a junior membership for Connor, plus access to all the practice facilities and a couple of lessons. I then phoned John to advise him what we had done.
John ran next door to his brother's house and put me on the phone with Andrea, Connor’s mother, so I explained how Fairways would be supporting Connor’s golf from now on. We arranged a time to meet over the next couple of days. When the time came, I met Connor and Andrea at Brudenell River. Anne joined us for a tour of the property and we had a good old golf chat. I love a golf chat!
Connor and I talked about our games. His driving and putting are fairly solid, but he struggles with chipping and bunkers. I'm the same with chipping, but my bunker play is pretty good. I did tell Connor that Brudenell has a great place behind the driving range where he can practice his sand shots. Anne introduced Connor to the starters, marshals and cart staff. She also pointed out all the facilities, explaining safety, etiquette and course management. Connor had a huge smile and that's one of the best parts about what we do.
After our touring golf chat, we headed back into the pro shop to get Connor his membership bag tag. On the way, I spotted three juniors from Club 19 (part of Rodds Brudenell River Resort), so took Connor over to meet Cam White, TJ, and Dexter Fraser. I explained that Connor just gotten his membership and was very keen to get golfing. The boys said they would keep an eye out for Connor and help him with his golf however they can.
It was time for me to go. As I said my goodbyes to Andrea and a visibly delighted Connor, he ran off to the car to grab his clubs and hit the range.