Each year hundreds of PGA of Canada golf instructors and coaches introduce golf to thousands of youngsters from coast to coast in Canada. We would love to shine a spotlight on each and every one but we’ll settle for showcasing four unique individuals who share a passion for teaching juniors what it means to be a golfer and how to become better players and people in the process.
PGA of Canada Director of Instruction
Focus Golf Group, Burlington, ON
FACEBOOK:/FocusGolfGroup or /DougLHP
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: “If they continue to fail and make mistakes they will learn this game faster than trying to be perfect every time,” Lawrie says. “There is only one way to fail…forward.”
The very first thing Lawrie, the 2012 PGA of Canada Junior Leader of the Year, does with new junior students is to literally get down to their level – many times on his knees – so they do not feel intimidated or scared. This is a key point with every child that enters his golf program. “They need to know that you have their best interest in mind and that they can relax and ask questions in a positive environment where they learn and have fun,” says Lawrie, who also received recognition earlier this year as one of the Top 50 junior golf instructors in the world from U.S. Kids. This past winter students attending the 46-year-old’s indoor academy at Burlington Fitness and Racquet Club played indoor tennis, trained with hula hoops and swung baseball bats, among other activities, to engage their bodies and minds. “If they aren’t having fun then I’m not doing my very best,” he says.
PGA of Canada Director of Instruction
Northview G&CC, Surrey, BC
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: “If at first you don’t succeed, listen to what your coach said the first time.”
When you join The Tour Performance LAB at Northview G&CC you are joining a team. It’s a different approach to learning about golf, but it’s working for Matt Palsenbarg as his players support each other at tournaments and LAB events. When a member of the team wins, everyone wins. As one of the core values for the lab, students spend a lot of time in the gym with fitness guru (and Golf Canada columnist) Jason Glass. “We see muscles popping out, fat disappears, they run and they start to get in shape. They feel like athletes and that’s a big thing because it gives them confidence,” says the 32-year-old Palsenbarg, who spent five years teaching the golf swing before transitioning into comprehensive coaching five years ago. Thirty-eight students are enrolled in the team-oriented, year-long coaching program that starts each September and another 60 students – with the goal of getting to 100 – take part in shorter programs throughout the year.
PGA of Canada Assistant Professional
Canyon Meadows G&CC, Calgary, AB
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: A self-described “Star Wars nerd,” Mitch often pulls quotes from these epic movies for his students. One of his favorites is from Yoda: “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
Walz, who began his golf career as a long drive competitor, believes that the best junior golf development programs must provide the framework for personal growth. His coaching programs ensure that all juniors, regardless of skill level and age, build foundational life skills such as honesty, integrity, accountability, responsibility and teamwork. Walz’s programs embrace healthy competition and physical and mental development. The 30-year-old works hard at being a strong mentor, but most of all he focuses on having fun! “We create an atmosphere where the kids have a blast and want to come back again and again,” he says. Off course activities have included paintball and a girls’ yoga night. Fifteen of his students organized a 72-hole golf challenge and raised.
Golf New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Choosing words from Ben Hogan, Bari tells her junior golfers, “The most important shot in golf is the next one.”
As a golf professional in New Brunswick for 25 years, Gourley has introduced tens of thousands of youngsters to the game she fell in love with as a six-year-old playing with her parents. “The greatest memories I have of my parents are playing golf with them and I hope children that I teach will look back on their youth and have those memories too,” says Gourley, named Junior Leader of the Year for 2013 for the PGA of Canada Atlantic Division. “My goal is to start them out and introduce them to a healthy active lifestyle that they will be able to play as parents and grandparents. They’re probably not going to get to the pro tours, but they certainly can enjoy golf with their friends and family.” In 2013, the 49-year-old drove the CN Future Links mobile van to clinics across New Brunswick, introduced the Golf in Schools program to teachers and students, and coached Team New Brunswick at the Canada Summer Games and Canadian Junior Girls Championship.