ORILLIA— Golf Ontario and Golf Barrie unveiled a new concept on September 11 with the first Golf Jam, hosted by Hawk Ridge Golf & Country Club in Orillia. The day, geared at junior golfers under 14 years of age, was a huge success as 64 players comprised 16 teams to take part in the day’s events.
“Golf Jam is a program that we’ve partner with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport to create and provide to kids across the province. It aims to engage local golf clubs and promote fun family, friends and fitness all in a team environment,” said Mike Kelly, Golf Ontario Executive Director.
The day broke down into two components: a CN Future Links Skills Challenge and a nine-hole alternate shot team golf competition. Half of the teams took to the course, while the other half competed in the skills challenge, before swapping after lunch.
“I believe we continue to create and inspire new ways for kids and families to get into golf but this just blew my mind,” added Kelly. “Based on the reaction from coaches, kids and parents, I see this as a home run! I see it going to different communities across Ontario in future years because it is a great way to bring the province together.”
Kelly’s optimism was echoed by coaches and parents who attended the day. “Golf Jam is a great introduction for players who have participated in our camps, clinics and leagues to be involved in potentially their first tournament,” said Ryan Star, Coach at Geared to Golf. “There are a lot of players who haven’t crossed paths with one another so we hope that there are a lot of new friendships by the end of the day.”
“The day has been fantastic!” Remarked Kevin Potter, a parent attending the event. “What Golf Ontario is doing for the kids is awesome! It is great to see the team sprit and everyone has a smile on their face today! The team competition was a lot of fun. It was well put together and we had a great time playing the alternate-shot format.”
Those sentiments also trickled down to the young golfers themselves who not only enjoyed the golf and skills challenge, but also the fun and games that made up the rest of the day.
“Today has been great especially since we just started school and have been really busy,” said Abigail Dove, 11-years-old from Brooklin. “To have all of these fun things to do like golf with friends, bouncy castles, and play games has been great to enjoy!”
“My favorite part of the day was golfing on the course. I played awesome and so did the rest of my team. Golf Jam has been good and lots of fun. I like it!” Added Aiden Hodgkinson, 8-years-old from Brooklin.
While the emphasis on the day was squarely around fun the teams did want bragging rights as the inaugural Golf Jam champs. When all of the scores were tallied there was a three-way tie between Whistle Bear GC (Peyton Costabile, Andreas Diogenous, Owen Lipskie and Aiden Shan), Barrie CC (David Simon, Andrew Laurin, Olivia Stoggart and Matthew Simon), and TTGA (Alissa Xu, Sopia Xu, Arthur Wang and Joline Truong) who all finished with a score of 21 Stableford points to share the gold medal.