Golf facilities across Canada play an essential role in creating opportunities for junior golfers to develop and succeed. Especially for juniors who have competitive aspirations, the opportunity to play and practice at an accessible facility is a critical ingredient in their journeys.
Time spent at the golf course during childhood builds the skills required to succeed in competitive golf. And the work ethic cultivated by effortful practice develops a strength of character in a young person that is transferrable to whatever future endeavors they may pursue – whether related to golf or not.
Accordingly, providing a determined young person with the access to play, practice, and pursue their golfing dreams at a welcoming golf course can change the trajectory of their life. My own path was dramatically changed by the opportunities afforded to me as an employee with course access at Donalda Club and a sponsored junior member at Bayview Country Club in Toronto. The chance to play and practice at these facilities was the foundation that ultimately led to a golf scholarship at Stanford University. Many golf facilities across the country recognize the impact they can have on young people and have made it a priority to provide juniors with affordable course privileges. Thank you!
However, there are still barriers for some competitive juniors to gain access to adequate golf facilities. The increased popularity of golf has made courses very busy, and in some cases, facilities have managed this heightened demand by limiting junior memberships or scaling back course access. In some major metropolitan areas, the only way for competitive juniors to gain regular course and practice facility access is through family club memberships that require a significant investment.
Increased demand for golf in Canada has created prosperity for our industry and positively impacted the overall health of our sport. But it has also introduced a new set of choices about how junior golf will be prioritized by facilities. Will public courses continue to sell junior golf memberships when the opportunity cost is significant? Can members-only clubs admit even just a handful of non-family “sponsored” juniors for practice and playing privileges when tee times are already in extremely high demand? Can a facility provide its course to host a junior championship?
In one sense, these are challenging decisions to make in today’s extraordinary environment. However, when viewed through a long-term lens, the future health of golf participation in Canada – and also the future opportunity for Canadians to emerge as touring professionals – is dependent on courses across our country choosing to prioritize access for junior golfers. This is why Golf Canada is urgent about expanding First Tee across Canada and is grateful for the philanthropic support enabling this growth. If junior golf access is limited now, we will see problematic impacts on participation in the future.
Accordingly, Golf Canada wishes to more prominently thank the golf facilities and programs that are stepping up and already making a significant positive contribution to junior golf in Canada. To publicly and formally recognize their impact, beginning in 2022 a new series of awards called the Golf Canada National Awards for Junior Golf will be presented to celebrate facility achievements and create a heightened national awareness for how golf facilities can effectively support junior golf in their respective communities.
Awards will be presented to facilities and programs who are setting a national example by creating affordable and accessible junior membership opportunities, serving as a host location for tournaments, introducing new golfers to the sport, and developing nationally successful competitive players. Award winners for the 2022 season will be announced at the Golf Canada’s 2023 Annual General Meeting. Please see the detailed summary below for more information about the Golf Canada National Facility Awards for Junior Golf, including award categories, nomination process, and timelines.
Along with most golfers across Canada, we believe that all juniors who are passionate about golf and serious about their competitive development should have affordable access to a facility where they can pursue their dreams. We are grateful for the facilities who share this vision and already support junior golf in a significant way. Thank you! We look forward to recognizing you publicly and celebrating your leadership so it can be followed across Canada.
Go Canada Go!
The Golf Canada National Facility Awards for Junior Golf
The following awards will be presented:
Junior Golf Opportunity Award
Awarded to a facility that provides exceptional access and membership opportunities for junior golfers. Special consideration is given to facilities with strong non-family sponsored junior programs and facilities with fundraising programs to help athletes compete at provincial, national, and international competitions.
First Tee Program Location of the Year
Awarded to a First Tee Program Location that demonstrates excellent enrollment in First Tee programming and makes a significant impact on growing participation among new juniors within its community.
Youth on Course Program Location of the Year
Awarded to the facility that provides the largest number of Youth on Course green fee subsidies to junior golfers in the calendar year.
Competitive Junior Program of the Year
Awarded to a facility or academy program with many junior athletes competing in provincial and national championships and earning strong results in those championships.
Grassroots Junior Program of the Year
Awarded to a facility or academy program that is excelling at creating new junior golfers through local programming.
Tournament Host of the Year
Awarded to a facility that gives back to junior golf by embracing the opportunity to host junior competitions. The facility creates an excellent tournament experience for players and involves the local community through volunteers and fundraising support.
NOMINATION AND SELECTION PROCESS
Week of May 30 – Individual Golf Canada Members and Golf Canada Member Facilities are notified of the National Facility Awards for Junior Golf program in 2022.
September 6 – Applications are opened to all individual Golf Canada members and member facilities to nominate facilities for each award category. Facilities are encouraged to apply themselves.
October 31 – Deadline for Golf Canada to receive all nominations using the online nomination portal.
November 2022 – Nominations are reviewed by the Golf Industry Advisory Council, Sport Committee, and Amateur Championships Committee. Members from these groups will be asked to rank nominees using a matrix provided by the Golf Services department. Volunteers with an affiliation to a nominated facility will be recused from discussions relating to that facility.
December 2022 – Staff from Golf Services, Amateur Championships, and High Performance departments will work together to review all feedback and determine a final ranking of nominees within each category. Staff with an affiliation to a nominated facility will be recused from discussions relating to that facility. A short list of finalists will be published in each category.
February 2023 – Award winners will be announced and recognized at Golf Canada’s Annual General Meeting.
March 2023 – Awards will be shipped to each recipient and a press release will be created for all award winners.
A plaque will be provided to each award-winning facility on behalf of Golf Canada to recognize the award and celebrate its contributions to junior golf in Canada.
Facilities will not be eligible to win in the same award category in consecutive years.