It has been 17 months since I had the idea for Fairways and roped Jeremy in to joining me on this journey.
We have worked extremely hard to build something we both believe in. With 20 juniors in four countries, it looks like that we will be expanding into another 2 provinces in Canada, Australia and we are in discussions with some people in Zambia so I may well end up in Africa before I return to Canada next year.
I have spent my months in Canada working full time as a waitress at Rodds Brudenell River Resort, while continuing to build Fairways in my spare time.
Every Tuesday saw me spend 3 hours at Avondale Golf Course helping with junior clinics, 3 hours on my laptop then 3 hours in the afternoon at Belfast Highland Greens helping with their junior clinics.
I even had a couple of the parents of a child from Belfast ask if I would give them private lessons. While I laughed as I thought they were kidding (they were not) I did give both a lesson and was paid for it so that makes me officially a golf pro does it not?
We have had some wonderful press coverage in Ireland, Canada and the USA in the last 6 months which you can check out on our News & Media page.
I was in Toronto for the RBC Canadian Open (blog post here) and then Ottawa for the CP Canadian Women’s Open. I had media accreditation at both events.
While in Ottawa I finally met with Scott MacLeod from Flagstick Golf who interviewed me for their podcast. I chatted all things junior golf with Kevin and Lisa Haime who run Kevin Haime Golf School and have helped hundreds of juniors golf in Ottawa.
I also connected with Jeff Calderwood the CEO of NGCOA (National Golf Course Owners Association of Canada) and had an hour and a half conversation about golf, juniors, course owners and setting up a non-profit on your credit cards. Jeff did the same thing himself 25 years ago with the NGCOA! I asked him if he would be my mentor and he laughed and said perhaps I could be his, considering what we have accomplished in such a short time. He wanted me to meet his COO, Nathalie Lavallée, so before I flew out I went to their head office and had another wonderful golf chat discussing opportunities to work together.
I connected with hundreds of people and made many new golf friends. One of whom was Damian MacInnis from Celtic Keys, (and Celtic Air Services), soon to be the Celtic Group as they expand the services they offer beyond flights and accommodation. I will be visiting Damian very soon to discuss expanding into Nova Scotia and sponsoring some underprivileged juniors there. The plan is to spend three days touring Cape Breton with Celtic Keys to discuss working together to get more children out playing golf.
I also played golf with four of our Canadian juniors, three of whom are trying out for their school golf team. I am so impressed with their improvement in 12 months and can’t wait to see how much they develop in the time I am away.
Elsewhere, we have been in discussions with Jack Newton Junior Golf (JNJG) in Australia about helping some Australian kids. We have also started talking with some new contacts in Zambia! So who knows, I may well end up visiting Africa before I return to Canada next year.
I have just booked my flights back to Australia, but not directly. I fly from Halifax to LA for three days for some meetings and golf. Then I continue to Calcutta to see Indrajit Bhalotia and the Fairways juniors in India. Afterwards it is on to Kathmandu to see Sachin Bhattarai and Pratima Sherpa. Pratima is the Nepali junior we sponsor and Sachin, the head pro at Royal Nepal Golf Club, is her coach. Sachin I and are going to discuss the expansion of his junior program and how Fairways can help.
Last year I was a bit burnt out, because I was working too hard and trying to achieve too much, too quickly. So this year I have been trying to maintain a good work life balance. I still work a lot, but as I'm pursuing my passion, it hardly seems like work. Golf has enriched my life.
Another pressure we had last year was funding. I was putting all the payments on my credit card and just hoping things would work out. I've still got a lot of personal debt, but since we launched Awesome 4somes, our tee time auction idea, I've started to see a little of that stress easing. Please check out the tee times and if one's in your area, remember it's 50% off the full rate. Please also share Awesome 4somes with your golf friends as not only are you purchasing a great round of golf, you're supporting underprivileged junior golfers around the world!