Golf Canada names Laura Wilson its new Director for Diversity, Inclusion and Safe Sport
Former executive director of Ontario Para Network will help support the National Sport Federation’s commitment to creating a safe, diverse, and welcoming environment within the organization and across the sport.
Golf Canada has announced the hiring of Laura Wilson as its new Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Safe Sport.
Wilson, an experienced and enthusiastic senior leader, has held important executive positions at various organizations including most recently as the Executive Director of the Ontario Para Network, and previously with the Coaches Association of Ontario, and the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto.
The role is a new position in Golf Canada, reflecting the organization’s elevated commitment to driving diversity and inclusion in all facets of the game as well as ensuring a safe sport environment for all enthusiasts.
“We are extremely proud to add someone like Laura, with the depth of her experience and skill-set, to our team,” said Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum. “Golf Canada launched an extensive search for committed leader such as Laura who could advance our efforts across equity, diversity and inclusion as well as our critical safe sport activities. As an organization and industry, we are looking forward to open dialogue, engagement and action with our stakeholders and partners to help develop and execute an important diversity, inclusion, and safe sport strategy for the betterment of the organization and our sport overall.”
As part of Wilson’s effort, she will chair Golf Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion Alliance to execute a multi-point strategy to help all individuals to foster an environment where all feel responsible for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“I am committed to building diverse, fully inclusive, and equitable sport pathways for future generations of all abilities, and I can’t wait to get started at Golf Canada. As a sport leader, I am also committed to increasing opportunities for all,” said Wilson, who immigrated from India with her parents as a child.
“I believe we all have a responsibility to champion safe sport and inclusion while fostering the change we want to see in our organization and across our communities.”
Golf Canada recently launched an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion online resource as an expression of is commitment in this important space. The portal outlines a number of the policies, activities and alliances that are currently underway.
Earlier this year, Golf Canada also launched a Safe Sport online resource as part of its fundamental responsibility to protect the health, safety and physical and mental well-being of athletes, staff, volunteers, and other enthusiasts involved in its activities.
Wilson has experience not only as a senior leader in the associations and organizations space but has a background in media and content development as well. Her robust volunteer experience across many sports along with a continued interest in education and growth made her a perfect addition to Golf Canada’s team.
AN INVITATION TO CONNECT: CEO Laurence Applebaum on Golf Canada’s Commitment to Support Diversity and Inclusion
Laurence Applebaum (Golf Canada)
Laurence Applebaum, Golf Canada CEO
It was a transformative moment for our organization.
A virtual town-hall with staff in the summer of 2020 to talk about the tragic and senseless murder of George Floyd and reflect on what we were seeing and experiencing in the world around us. The team shared an honest and emotional conversation, and I was incredibly moved by the personal sharing, thoughtful insights on racial injustice, and the conviction that everyone brought to the call.
Many followed up with a willingness to play a role in what comes next for Golf Canada—a shared commitment to be an organization of impact that could lead through action. I look back to that moment as a catalyst for the important steps needed to make our organization and our sport reflect the multi-cultural diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance that we all want as Canadians.
It was that commitment that led to the creation of Golf Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion Alliance and a vision for who we want to be in this important space.
“As the National Sport Federation and governing body, Golf Canada is committed to creating a safe, diverse, and welcoming environment within our organization and across our sport.
We recognize that even as Canada’s most participated sport, we know that our sport is not free from prejudice, stigma, racism, or systemic bias. Golf Canada stands in solidarity with racialized persons and equity seeking groups and is working to better understand the challenges of racialized communities as well as the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and golfers with a disability.
We formed our Diversity & Inclusion Alliance to develop a strategic action pathway that will guide the organization’s efforts to create a more inclusive and respectful sport environment. This includes a review of Golf Canada’s policy for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; education and training for staff and volunteers; integration of diversity elements across all programs, events and partnerships; and a commitment to be a leading voice in global golf that supports diversity and inclusion in the communities where we live, work and play.”
As the national sport federation, we needed to do the work—to begin having conversations about privilege and bias that were uncomfortable but important.
To learn from thought leaders and invest in training and education for staff and volunteers. Golf Canada’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy has been in place for a number of years and the efforts of our Diversity and Inclusion Alliance have brought forward strategic activities that bring the spirit of our policy to life. The areas of focus include: a diversity audit; education and training; recruitment and retention; advocacy; and support for racialized and diverse communities.
The launch of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion online resource is an expression of our commitment in this important space and portal to many of the activities and alliances that are currently underway.
I am extremely proud of the work that has been done by Golf Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion Alliance to inspire an organization-wide commitment to developing a more inclusive and inviting culture within our sport. Some of the activities undertaken to date include:
Professional development training for staff and volunteers in areas such as unconscious bias, microaggressions, and anti-racism.
An internal diversity audit of staff and volunteers through a self-identification survey as well as a COBRAS survey to assess awareness of racial privilege, institutional discrimination, and racial issues.
An ongoing review of our job postings and process with a goal to diversify and expand the applicant pool for staff and volunteer recruitment.
Golf Canada is also fully committed to fostering a safe sport environment for golf. As the national sport federation, we have fundamental obligation and responsibility to protect the health, safety and physical and mental well being of athletes, staff, volunteers, and other enthusiasts involved in our sport.
Change takes time. As much as anything, we want to make a connection with the many equity seeking groups who do not feel welcomed within the golf experience.
That means encouraging national, provincial, and local golf organizations along with golf facilities to consider education and training with an expressed commitment to support diversity and inclusion in the communities where we live, work, and play.
It is an invitation to golf’s stakeholders to consider positive action through policies, programs, recruitment, and retention to support the progression of indigenous communities, racialized Canadians, 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, golfers with disability and other equity-seeking groups who are playing and working at all levels of the sport.
It also means promoting opportunities for diversity and inclusion through advocacy, education, recruitment, and financial investment across areas of our business.
As Canadians, the deeply disturbing tragedies of the residential school system and the ongoing impact on our Indigenous communities further reinforces the need for greater education and acceptance, and reconciliation. Those in our sport can benefit by understanding and advancing the unique connection between golf and our indigenous communities, as so thoughtfully examined in this SCOREGolf cover feature.
I want to recognize and thank our partners at the PGA of Canada for their extensive work in this space through the activities of their dynamic Diversity Task Force. We are also learning through the meaningful efforts of our many provincial, national, international, and corporate partners who have a shared vision to make our sports and our communities more inclusive.
While the expression of Golf Canada’s commitment to support equity, diversity and inclusion and our activities to date are important steps, our work and our investment in this important space is only just beginning.
Together with our Board of Directors and staff, we look forward to connecting with the entire golf community to create a safe, diverse, and welcoming environment within our organization and across our sport.
Kent Gilchrist covered just about everything in a sportswriting career that spanned more than 40 years, but he had a particular affinity for golf. Not just the game, but the people who played it.
Gilchrist, known as Cookie to his countless friends, died at his New Westminster home Wednesday night after a lengthy illness. He was 72. Cookie was larger than life. He could light up a room and fill it with laughter. He seemed to know everyone.
Doug Roxburgh, the 13-time B.C. Amateur winner, was shocked to learn of Gilchrist’s death after his round Thursday at the B.C. Amateur Championship at Storey Creek Golf Club in Campbell River.
“I have so many great memories of Cookie,” Roxburgh said. “I can remember talking to him so many times like this after a round at the B.C. Amateur. Cookie always had a smile on his face. He just really enjoyed talking to the players and was a golfer himself. He kind of lived a little of his golf through the people he covered.”
Gilchrist was born in Souris, Man., and worked at the Brandon Sun, Regina Leader-Post and Winnipeg Free Press before moving west in 1973. He worked briefly for the Vancouver Sun before moving down the hall to The Province, where he spent 37 years before retiring in 2010.
Gilchrist served a stint as sports editor, covered the B.C. Lions and many other sports, including curling and horse-racing, and eventually became a general sports columnist at the newspaper.
For many years he returned to his boyhood home to play in the annual Grey Owl golf tournament in Clear Lake, Man. Kris Jonasson, chief executive officer of British Columbia Golf, accompanied Gilchrist on one of those Grey Owl trips. “Cookie was a storyteller,” Jonasson said. “All great reporters should be storytellers. But in addition to being a storyteller, Cookie created stories and there are a lot of great stories about things that he did during his career. I am really happy that I got to know him, I am happy I got to travel with him and he is somebody that will be missed.”
Like many of us, Gilchrist was a frustrated golfer. He loved the game, but it didn’t always love him back. “He couldn’t get out on the football field and play with the guys, but he could get out on the golf course,” Jonasson said. “Cookie knew his limitations. He was never going to be star player, but he enjoyed himself on the golf course.”
Gilchrist covered golf whenever he had the opportunity. He was a fixture at Northview Golf Club in Surrey during the seven-year run of the Greater Vancouver Open/Air Canada Championship, worked both of the Canadian Opens held at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in 2006 and 2011 and LPGA Tour events at Vancouver Golf Club and Point Grey. He was a big supporter of amateur golf in British Columbia.
Gilchrist was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2005, the B.C. Football Hall of Fame in 2017 and was awarded the Northwest Golf Media Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2015. His many friends in the media industry paid tribute to him after news of his death was announced by longtime friend and former BCTV/Global sportscaster Bernie Pascall.
“It is devastating,” Pascall said. “He was a fun guy to be around and we’ll all miss him. With Cookie, the emphasis was always on fun, but he was always a very dedicated journalist and well respected. I travelled some early football trips with him. He liked to enjoy a good meal and a good time, but the job was of utmost importance to him and he was very focused on what he did. I don’t think he had an enemy in the world. He had friends everywhere.”
On a personal note, I like to count myself as one of those friends. I got to know Cookie when I inherited the golf beat at the Vancouver Sun from the retired Arv Olson in the mid-1990s. Cookie went out of his way to help me get comfortable on the golf beat. I marvelled at how many people he knew and he went out of his way to introduce all of them to me.
We covered many tournaments together and played lots of golf. He always put a smile on my face. We had lots of laughs. He had struggled with his health in recent years. After a battle with throat cancer, Gilchrist battled respiratory issues and had recently spent time in hospital following a heart attack.
Gilchrist is survived by his wife, Lesley, son Riley, daughter Rebecca and four grandchildren. The entire family had spent considerable time with him in recent weeks. No immediate service is planned.
OAKVILLE, Ont. – Wondering how Canada’s Olympic golf team will be selected? You’re not alone.
In 2016, golf made its historic return to the Olympic Games for the first time in 112 years, dating back to when Canadian George S. Lyon won gold for Canada at St. Louis 1904. A lot has happened since 2016 (new Rules of Golf and new PGA TOUR schedule just to name a few) and many golf fans have forgotten how Olympic qualifying works, which is why we’re writing this article.
The field for the 2020 Olympic golf competition will include 60 women and 60 men competing over 72 holes of stroke play in a men’s individual event (July 30-August 2) and a women’s individual event (August 5-8).
Athletes earn their spots on their respective Olympic Golf Team based on their standing in the respective men’s and women’s Olympic golf rankings. The final day for qualifying is June 22, 2020 for the men’s teams and June 29, 2020, for the women’s teams.
The top-15 players will qualify with a limit of up to four golfers per any one country. Any remaining spots will go to countries who do not already have two golfers qualified, with a limit of two per country. As well, the International Golf Federation (IGF) has guaranteed at least one golfer from the host nation and each geographical region (Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania) will qualify.
If Canada’s team was determined today (Sept. 12, 2019), Adam Hadwin, Corey Conners, Brooke Henderson and Alena Sharp represent Canada. However, there’s still plenty of golf to be played before the selection is made.
Golf Canada is the National Sports Federation and governing body for golf in Canada representing 319,000 golfers and 1,400 member clubs across the country. A proud member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Golf Canada’s mission is to increase Canadian participation and excellence in golf. By investing in the growth of the sport and introducing more participants of all ages to the game, our vision is to be a world leader in golf.
Prior to being named to the final Canadian 2020 Team, all nominations from Canada are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Federations.
UPDATE: May 27, 2020
Qualification will still be based on the Olympic Golf Rankings, with the men’s qualification period now ending on June 21, 2021 and the women’s closing a week later on June 28, 2021. The rankings have been suspended since March 20 and points will begin to be accumulated again when competitions are allowed to resume.
UPDATE: June 30, 2021
The men’s individual event will now be played from July 29-Aug. 1, 2021 and the women’s individual event will be played from Aug. 4-7, 2021. Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes are the men’s nominated athletes and Brooke Henderson and Alena Sharp are the women’s nominated athletes to represent Canada.
Golf Canada welcomes Recipe Unlimited as Official Restaurant Partner
Golf Canada and Recipe Unlimited announced today a multi-year integrated partnership that will see Recipe Unlimited become the Official Restaurant Partner for the National Sport Federation.
The two-tiered partnership will welcome Recipe Unlimited as the official Restaurant Partner of Canada’s National Open Golf Championships – the CP Women’s Open and the RBC Canadian Open – as well as become the presenting sponsor of the onsite “Fare Way” food experience at both Championships.
Recipe Unlimited’s catering division – Marigolds and Onions – will also become the exclusive Catering Partner for both National Open Championships providing concessions and catering services including non-clubhouse corporate hospitality areas.
“Partnering with Recipe Unlimited and their collection of premium restaurant brands will deliver a special enhancement to the fan-centric Fare Way food experience at our National Open Championships,” said Golf Canada Chief Commercial Officer John Sibley. “We are excited to welcome our new partners to the golf space and look forward to working with their experienced restaurant and catering divisions to deliver an exceptional and familiar food experience to our event spectators and hospitality clients as well as golfers from coast to coast.”
Recipe Unlimited (formerly Cara Foods) is the largest restaurant operator in Canada and includes brands such as The Keg, Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, Montana’s, Pickle Barrel, New York Fries and Burger’s Priest to name a few.
“We are thrilled to become the Official Restaurant Partner for the National Sport Federation, fueling both the RBC Canadian Open and the CP Women’s Open in 2022 and beyond,” said Frank Hennessey, CEO, Recipe Unlimited.
Through the partnership, Recipe Unlimited will look to engage with golfers across Canada and will also look to develop additional opportunities to add value for Golf Canada members at select Recipe Unlimited restaurant locations.
Passing of Guy Bernier: “Thank you for helping the industry grow”.
(Photo: Minas Panagiotakis/Golf Canada)
It is with great regret before the long weekend that the Québec golf world learned of the death of Guy Bernier, after a very courageous fight against cancer.
In his case, the word courage in recent years is fully warranted. He was 67 years old and had been retired for two years from Golf Canada.
Guy Bernier worked at the national sport federation as the regional director for Québec. He succeeded Rémi Bouchard after Bouchard became a full-time pro.
His mandate was to maintain the presence of Golf Canada in the 325 clubs of the province, which his personality allowed him to do and succeed.
The ambassador role was a second career for Guy Bernier, his first very successful one having been in equipment sales.
You probably had some of his equipment in your bag as well since he was associated with two winning brands, first with Spalding Top Flite before becoming Mr. Callaway in 1981 for 18 years before running his own agency.
This was the era of Michel Norman Sr., Helene Norris, Russell Campbell, Richard Dufresne and Max Oxford and company, before the advent of big box stores and internet shopping, when he had to visit the pros all over the province and Ottawa area in their stores several times a year – which created a deep bond.
The many messages of sympathy on social media show the level of appreciation that he enjoyed.
Golf Canada also published the following statement:
“We pass along our sincere condolences to the family & friends of our dear friend and former colleague Guy Bernier. He was a highly respected contributor to our sport, a gentleman in his dealings as our Regional Director in Quebec, a passionate enthusiast of the game & a friend to many across the golf community. #RIP”
Our condolences to Guy Bernier’s wife and two boys.
Golf Canada’s latest app update includes games and enhanced course lookup
Golf Canada has dropped an app update that is sure to get golfers pumping their fists!
Just in time for the 2021 golf season, the latest version of Golf Canada’s app now features the ability to set up Match Play, Skins of Stroke Play games against friends using Gross or Net scoring.
Put the pencil down and forget about dotting the scorecard. You no longer need to worry about who gets strokes on what hole. The Golf Canada app has you covered.
Plus, users can discover new places to play using a revamped course finder tool. The new look-up functionality allows golfers to search for courses using criteria like number of holes, type of facility (private, public, semi-private) and ease of walking, among many others.
The app is also helping golfers get better connected with their favourite facilities – users can look up clubs who are specifically offering promotions.
Save time and the hassle of setting up matches with your buddies and get the newest version of the Golf Canada app, available starting April 5, 2021.
These new Golf Canada App features are in addition to those users already enjoy, like real-time course GPS data and game tracking.
Don’t play another round until you download the latest version of this app.
Canadians needing a social outlet and a sense of recreational normalcy during the uncertainty of the pandemic in 2020 turned to golf in a major way. Now Golf Canada, with the support of industry partners, will build on the excitement, increased interest, and elevated levels of play with a national golfer retention campaign to welcome new and returning players back to the golf course in 2021.
The campaign – GOLF IS CALLING – is a Canada-wide marketing initiative to speak to new, younger golfers as well as the community of avid players, each uniquely drawn to the game whether it be for exercise, the social experience or the challenge of the sport.
The golfer retention campaign is being led in partnership with Golf Canada’s Industry Advisory Council, a group of industry professionals that includes course owners, operators, general managers, PGA of Canada professionals, superintendents, and other stakeholders in the game.
For Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum, golf’s emergence through the pandemic as a safe, social, and inclusive activity during an extremely challenging period was a silver lining for a sport enjoyed by nearly 6M Canadians annually.
“Golf is a sport of invitation, where we bring others along to experience and enjoy the game for a lifetime. GOLF IS CALLING is also a return invitation to the avid players and new enthusiasts who enjoyed the game in record numbers this past year. It is also an outreach and welcome to young and diverse audiences and a powerful confirmation that our sport offers the healthy attributes, safe environment, and industry capacity of nearly 2,300 facilities to support physical, social, and mental well-being in a meaningful way.”
GOLF IS CALLING features a vibrant and new look for golf. The campaign messaging and creative was informed by deep market research as well as creative trends from across industries and broader sport to reflect an industry-wide effort to promote golf participation. This season long, national marketing campaign features a fresh and inviting energy as the calling for Canadians to play more golf.
“As marketers and sport leaders, we look for moments to connect with golfers, and this past year has offered an unparalleled signature moment for the golf community to influence and entrench behaviours that will benefit our sport for the long run,” said Golf Canada Chief Marketing Officer Vanessa Morbi. “With more than 700 customizable assets that golf facilities and industry partners can leverage in their marketing efforts, this is a special moment to rally the full weight and collective voice of our sport to inspire more play in 2021.”
The suite of tools is available to golf courses and industry stakeholders to share in national roll-out of the golfer retention campaign. The bilingual campaign will be presented as SORTEZ, GOLFEZ across all French language assets and Golf Canada will support the campaign with a paid media buy executed across social and digital channels.
In conjunction with the campaign, Golf Canada has also relaunched its website as a portal to enhance the golfer experience and support tee-time booking through a national course look-up tool. This feature can be found on www.golfcanada.ca and will connect golfers with facilities across the country.
Despite a season suspended in most parts of Canada through early May, data from the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) of Canada reported a 18.9% increase in total rounds played across the country in 2020. Golf Canada members as well as public players who track an official handicap index experienced a significant lift in play, posting a record 7.8M scores to the Golf Canada Score Centre, a 7% lift over the prior year with monthly score posting records set from June through October.
Canadian levels of engagement in the sport mirrored strong growth metrics across North America as new and avid players invested in tee times as well as memberships, equipment, league play, junior golf, and instruction.
As Canadian golf facilities continue to manage the impact of the pandemic on non-golf revenues, the game is thriving as a safe and healthy recreational option that drives significant economic, employment, tourism, environmental and charity benefits to communities across Canada.
Supported by comprehensive healthy and safety protocols enacted by the golf community as well as adjustments made to the golf course experience, the sport is well positioned with momentum.
“Creating a national campaign that speaks to golfers of varying abilities and connection to the game is no easy feat, and we continue to be extremely sensitive to the disastrous impact of the pandemic which has taken a significant emotional, economic and mental toll,” added Shawn Evans, President and CEO of GolfNorth Properties who is also Chair of the Golf Industry Advisory Council. “At the same time, we see the opportunity in golf’s emergence through the pandemic to present our sport in a fresh way to new audiences with a visceral consumer experience that will be noticed.”
Golf Canada Annual Meeting concludes with Liz Hoffman elected as 116th President
Golf Canada’s 2021 Annual Meeting culminated on Thursday, March 4th with the election of Thornhill, Ont. native Liz Hoffman as the 116th President of the National Sport Federation.
Hoffman, a past President of Golf Ontario who spent 39 years with the University of Toronto including 16 as Director of Athletics and High-Performance, succeeds Charlie Beaulieu of Lorraine, Que. who served consecutive terms as President in 2019-20.
“It is an honour to represent our member clubs, and golfers from coast to coast as the 119th President of Golf Canada,” said Hoffman. “To follow in the path of friends, mentors, and colleagues who have empowered my journey with this storied organization. We have a really special opportunity in this current environment to advance the sport of golf, and together with the Board of Directors, our CEO Laurence Applebaum, our talented staff and volunteers and so many partners across the golf and sport community, I look forward to being a part of it.”
Click here for a detailed bio on Golf Canada’s 116th President, Liz Hoffman.
Hoffman is joined by Vice-President Dale Jackson of Victoria, B.C. in leading the 13-member Board of Directors who will work closely with Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum. Based on the report of Golf Canada’s Nominating Committee, Hoffman and Jackson will be joined on the 2021 Board of Directors by David McCarthy of Toronto, Ont., Susan MacKinnon of Calgary, Alta., Adam Daifallah of Montreal, Que., Jean Stone-Séguin of Ottawa, Ont., Patrick Kelly of Victoria, B.C., Shawn Evans of Kitchener, Ont., Rai Sahi of Mississauga, Ont. and Alison Chisholm of Rothesay, N.B. New additions to the Board included Peter Major of Calgary, Alta., along with Diane Drury-Clarke and Jean-Sebastien Monty, both of Montreal, Que.
Outgoing Golf Canada President Charlie Beaulieu of Lorraine, Que. was recognized for his leadership of the association as an Honorary Life Governor.
Golf Canada’s 2021 Annual Meeting was conducted virtually over two days, March 3-4 with volunteers, staff, member clubs, and key industry stakeholders participating.
Overview of Golf Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion Alliance – presented by Alliance Chair & Team Canada Sport Psychologist Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood. The session also includes a panel discussion with Sandy Cross (Chief People Officer, PGA of America) as well as Teri Dennis-Davies (Senior Vice-President Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment).
Sport Overview – presented by Golf Canada’s Chief Sport Officer Kevin Blue
Tribute to Canadian Golf in 2020
To close its Annual Meeting, Golf Canada shared a video tribute to acknowledge the players, golf facilities and industry stakeholders across the Canadian golf community who supported the sport’s safe return and emergence in 2020 through the COVID-19 pandemic. The video acknowledges the entire Canadian Golf industry as the collective recipients of Golf Canada’s Distinguished Service Award. Click here to watch.
Nancy Spineti Delle Donne selected as Bruce Mitchell Volunteer of the Year