GolfNorth gives back in a big way
Course owner and operator adopts 30 schools for Golf in Schools program
Published on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 02:37PM EDT
In today’s golf industry, a lot is said about how the game may be “in a decline”.
Different corners of the industry all seem to agree that in order to sustain the game the various factions of the Canadian golf industry need to step up in a concerted effort to help get more children involved at the grassroots level to produce the next generations of golf enthusiasts.
While that statement certainly rings true, there are few organizations have made a commitment to the future of the golf industry quite like GolfNorth.
Owner and operator of 18 golf courses across southern Ontario, GolfNorth has stepped up in a big way in 2012. They’ve adopted 30 schools into the Golf in Schools program presented by Callaway and by doing so, they’ve put golf next to basketball and volleyball in gym class curriculums across southern Ontario.
Mike Garside, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at GolfNorth, explains that the reasoning behind adopting so many schools stemmed from a desire to give back to the communities that host their golf courses.
“A couple of years ago, we were looking at ways to obviously give back to the communities in which our golf courses are located,” said Garside. “The Golf in Schools program was a perfect opportunity to spread things out and give back to each of those.”
“We started out in year one, the 2011 season, by adopting schools in the areas where we have a large presence of golf courses. We had two or three golf courses in each community within the KW [Kitchener Waterloo] region, that’s kind of where we started. We branched out from there for the 2012 season.”
Garside explained that it was simple for a facility like his to make an impact because the resources required to adopt a school were minimal.
“It was very easy to get involved in the program,” he said. “My whole thing was if we do an average of two or three schools per golf course on a yearly basis, that’s a good starting point.”
GolfNorth also made it clear they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“We’re willing to do this over the next five years and make that investment.”
While Garside agrees that the golf industry has seen brighter days but stresses that the return on GolfNorth’s investment can be found in the number of juniors on the golf course.
“I think (our return is) just in giving back to the community and giving back to the game itself.
The Golf in Schools program is currently in close to 1,800 elementary schools across the country. Golf Canada, in partnership with Physical Health Education Canada (PHE Canada), the PGA of Canada and the provincial golf association recently launched the Golf in Schools high school program.
By participating in the Golf in Schools program, GolfNorth has become a pioneer company in growing the game through adopting local schools. They’ve created a base that they hope can grow for future golfer’s to take advantage of.
With some 4.5 million students enrolled at Canada’s 10,000 elementary schools and 4,500 high schools, GolfNorth understands that the physical education curriculum represents the single most concentrated opportunity to expose the game to a new generation of enthusiasts.
“It’s not a secret right now that our industry is hurting a little bit but I think there needs to be involvement from our industry to get more kids involved,” said Garside. “I think we’re all doing an okay job at that, but I’d like to see it progress a lot faster than it actually is right now. I think more people need to get involved in programs like this.”
As a company, GolfNorth has gone above and beyond in an attempt to get more kids onto the golf course, including a big contest incentive in conjunction with the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, held at GolfNorth’s Grey Silo Golf Course this past June.
The contest was launched earlier in 2012 and attracted 100 kids through Facebook and service clubs in the local area and gave each of them a golf package worth thousands of dollars. Each kid received a set of golf clubs, a bag and a GolfNorth membership until they turn 17.
“We had Maude-Aimee Leblanc come out from the LPGA, she signed autographs for the kids and it was a blast,” said Garside. “That’s the kind of initiative that’s different from the Golf in Schools, but again it’s something we felt we wanted to do for the community to get more kids involved in golf.”
To find out how you can get involved with the Golf in Schools presented by Callaway, click here.