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
Nancy Spineti Delle Donne recognized by Golf Canada as 2020 Bruce Mitchell Volunteer of the Year
Oakville, Ont. (Golf Canada) – Golf Canada is pleased to announce that Nancy Spineti Delle Donne of Montreal has been named the 2020 recipient of the Bruce Mitchell Volunteer of the Year Award. A presentation of the award will take place on Thursday, March 4 as part of Golf Canada’s Virtual Annual Meeting.
For more than 20 years, Nancy has been a major contributor to Golf Quebec and Golf Canada as an expert in Handicapping and Course Rating.
In 2008, Nancy was named to the Golf Canada Handicap & Course Rating Committee, a position she held proudly until the end of 2020. During this time, she played an integral role in the national launch of the new World Handicap System which was rolled globally in 2020.
“Volunteers are a driving force behind golf in this country and we are proud to recognize Nancy Spineti Delle Donne for her deep contributions to Handicapping and Course Rating this past year and over the last 20 years,” said Liz Hoffman, Golf Canada’s 1st Vice President who will sworn in as the Association’s 116th President during the Annual Meeting. “Nancy’s contribution to the game and her support in the execution of an important golf service has made and major impact. She has carried those responsibilities with excellence and is truly deserving of this recognition.”
Nancy was Chair of the Golf Québec Course Rating and Handicap Committee from 2008 to 2020 and served on the Golf Québec Board of Director from 2008 to 2015.
During her tenure with Golf Quebec, Nancy helped to train course rating teams across eight regional associations. She would visit 40+ member clubs a year and has rated nearly 90 courses. Her commitment to the craft included meticulous data collection and support documentation to ensure the highest standard of Golf Quebec’s course rating services.
Nancy has also served as Golf Quebec’s feature presenter for handicap seminars and played an instrumental role in training a province-wide network of club Handicap Committees who supported countless members in establishing a valid Handicap Index. From 2011 to 2014, she was also Chairperson of the Golf Québec Membership Committee.
A public player with provincial contributions dating back to 1997, Nancy was recognized for her exceptional service as Golf Quebec’s 2004 Volunteer of the Year, and in 2020, Golf Québec Board of Directors celebrated her retirement from the association by naming her an Honorary Governor.
Now in its 15th year, candidates for the Bruce Mitchell Volunteer of the Year Award are put forth to Golf Canada for consideration by the respective provincial golf associations in acknowledgment of significant contributions to the game of golf in their community.
The Bruce Mitchell Volunteer of the Year Award is named in recognition of Toronto native Bruce Mitchell who in 2017-18 was the first Canadian to serve as captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A). Born in Victoria and raised in Edmonton, the former president of the Toronto Golf Club and R&A member since 1988 was just the ninth internationally appointed captain of the R&A, one of the most prestigious volunteer positions in the world of golf. Duties as captain included representing the R&A as a global ambassador and aiding in the R&A’s effort to develop golf around the world.
Congratulations to Nancy Spineti Delle Donne of Montreal, Que. on being named the 2020 Bruce Mitchell Volunteer of the Year!
Liz Hoffman has served on Golf Canada’s Board of Directors since 2012 and has been a recognized leader in Canadian sport as an athlete, coach, and administrator.
She honed her executive leadership skills over a 39-year career with the University of Toronto including 16 years as Director of Athletics and High-Performance. She has been active with many sport organizations, serving as a past president of Canadian USport and Ontario University Athletics and as an officer and board member of both Ontario and Field Hockey Canada. She also served on the Board of Directors of Coaches of Canada and as a member of the Sport Development Committee of Swim Canada.
During her time with Golf Canada, she has contributed across a multitude of committees, councils and working groups including most recently serving as Chair of the Compensation Committee, the World Junior Girls Steering Committee and as a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Governance Renewal. She has previously chaired the Amateur Competitions, Sport Development and Human Resources Committees, as well as the Ad Hoc Committee to Review the COC Report. She has been a member of the Audit and Risk Committee, the Diversity Enhancement Working Group, and the Volunteer Services Working Group. Hoffman is also a member the Board of Directors of the Golf Canada Foundation, serving on the Executive Committee as Secretary and chairing both the Scholarships & Grants and the Women’s Fund Committees.
A past President of the Golf Association of Ontario, she was also the non-playing captain of Canada’s Women’s Team at the 2012, 2014 and 2016 World Amateur Team Championships and served as Golf Canada’s delegate to the Biennial meeting of the International Golf Federation in 2018. In 2020, she participated as a program mentor in the R&A’s Women in Golf Leadership Development Program and also joined the PGA of Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. She has been active as a tournament chair and starting & scoring official at Golf Canada amateur, professional, and international competitions.
A former provincial, national, and international golfer who won both the Ontario Junior and Quebec Women’s Amateur Championship, Hoffman is a member of both the Thornhill Golf Club and the Mad River Golf Club and shares her passion for the game with her husband Rick and their sons Matt and Mark.
Golf Canada goes virtual for its 2021 Annual Meeting
Golf Canada’s 2021 Annual Meeting shifts to a two-day virtual experience this week, March 3-4 as the National Sport Federation looks ahead in preparation for the 2021 season.
The event will bring together Golf Canada’s Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers as well as representatives from Canada’s provincial golf associations and other stakeholders.
The opening day session runs from 1-4 p.m. ET on Wednesday March 3rd with a selection of feature presentations outlining key Golf Canada initiatives for 2021 including:
Golf Canada’s 2021 Outlook – presented by Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum
Golf Industry Advisory Council: National Golfer Retention Campaign – presented by Golf Canada Chief Marketing Officer Vanessa Morbi
Keynote Presentation: Fireside Chat on Global Golf –featuring R&A CEO Martin Slumbers and the USGA’s outgoing CEO Mike Davis, hosted by Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum.
Sport Overview – presented by Golf Canada’s Chief Sport Officer Kevin Blue
Overview of Golf Canada’s Diversity & 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).***each of the feature presentations will be available online at golfcanada.ca.
The event will continue on Thursday March 4th with a virtually conducted Annual General Meeting beginning at 1:00pm ET which will include the release of Golf Canada’s 2020 Annual Report and Financial Statements posted to www.golfcanada.ca.
Golf Canada will also introduce its 2021 Board of Directors including the appointment of Liz Hoffman of Thornhill, Ont. as the association’s 116th President. Hoffman will take over the role from Charlie Beaulieu of Lorraine, Que. who served consecutive terms as President in 2019-20.
In addition, Golf Canada will celebrate outstanding contributions to the game of golf including a presentation of the 2020 Bruce Mitchell Volunteer of the Year Award to Handicap and Course Rating expert, Nancy Spineti Delle Donne of Montreal.
Steam Whistle and Golf Canada announce multi-year partnership renewal
Toronto (Golf Canada) – Golf Canada and The Good Beer Folks at Steam Whistle have announced the renewal of a multi-year partnership that will see Steam Whistle continue on as the Official Beer of Golf Canada, the RBC Canadian Open, and the CP Women’s Open.
Through the multi-year partnership – which began in 2018 – Steam Whistle will continue to work with Golf Canada to grow their brand amongst golfers and golf enthusiasts across the country.
Through the partnership, Steam Whistle’s premium product line will be served at Golf Canada’s PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour events—the RBC Canadian Open and CP Women’s Open.
“We are thrilled to extend our relationship with Steam Whistle as Golf Canada’s Official Beer Partner,” said John Sibley, Chief Commercial Officer of Golf Canada. “There is tremendous interest in golf right now and we are fortunate to have the continued support of Steam Whistle who have aligned their premium brand with our sport. Their commitment to quality craftsmanship and proud Canadian identity are well positioned as the beer of choice to enjoy at our National Open Championships or after a round at golf courses from coast to coast.”
The renewed agreement builds on Steam Whistle’s largest partnership in company history – a significant milestone for the independent Canadian brewer.
“Steam Whistle is committed to supporting the game of golf in Canada and our partnership with Golf Canada is the best example of that,” said Tim McLaughlin, Steam Whistle’s Vice-President of Marketing. “There is so much momentum behind the sport in our country thanks to the great work Golf Canada has done at the grassroots, amateur and professional level, and we are thrilled to be a long-term partner to support their efforts.”
In the first year of the partnership, beer sales at the 2018 RBC Canadian Open were up 200 per cent to the year prior. Founded in 2000, Steam Whistle’s Premium Pilsner has long been a staple of golf courses and refrigerators across the country. The Toronto-based brewery launched a Premium Pale Ale in 2019 and a Premium Session Lager in 2020 to go along with its award-winning Premium Pilsner.
The 2021 RBC Canadian Open will be contested at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto, with nearby Islington Golf Club housing the official tournament practice facility. It is scheduled for June 7-13. The 2021 CP Women’s Open is scheduled for August 23-29 at Vancouver’s Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club.
Golf in 2020: Looking back on a year you’ll never forget
TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley (Chris Fry)
The COVID-19 pandemic has infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands around the world. Almost without exception, everyone was affected in some way. Its effects extended beyond the physical toll, causing emotional, psychological and economic impact. We were hard-pressed to find ways to stay positive and active. Many turned to golf as an outlet, even therapy of sorts.
“What an incredibly strange and challenging year,” Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “Golf has been a silver lining, a bright light, call it what you may, in giving people a bit of a break from the pandemic.”
Record rounds were registered across the country consistently throughout the year, played under strict precautionary COVID-19 protocols.
While participation grew across the country, most tournaments and social gatherings at golf clubs were cancelled or postponed, including the RBC Canadian Open and the CP Women’s Open. The Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada cancelled its season. All Golf Canada’s national championships and many provincial association tournaments were shelved.
“We’re going to look back on 2020 and say, ‘amongst all the challenges, amongst a lot of really difficult situations for so many people, golf was a bright light that we built from,’” Applebaum said.
For example, the COVID-19 Golf Relief Fund initiated by Golf Canada and the Canadian Golf Foundation raised more than $400,000. The fund subsidizes non-medical personal protective equipment for golf course employees as well as sanitization, hygiene and protective material expenses. It also subsidizes rounds of golf for front-line workers as well as juniors.
What follows are some of the top golf-related stories from 2020, a very different year. These are just some of the headlines. Details on these stories and many others are available under News on the Golf Canada website.
The new World Handicap System came into effect with the goal of making the game more enjoyable by providing a consistent means of measuring performance and progress and to enable golfers of differing abilities to compete or play a casual round with anyone else on a fair and equal basis.
Jared du Toit, a member of Golf Canada’s Young Pro Squad, won the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Qualifying Tournament Mexico.
Grace McCann of Windsor, Ont., a past president of the former Canadian Ladies’ Golf Association, passed away at the age of 85.
The Golf Journalists Association of Canada named Brooke Henderson (female professional), Corey Conners (male professional), Garrett Rank (male amateur) and Brigitte Thibault (female amateur) as players of the year for 2019.
Charlie Beaulieu of Lorraine, Que., was elected for a second term at Golf Canada’s annual meeting. Liz Hoffman of Thornhill, Ont., and Dale Jackson of Victoria remain as first and second vice-president respectively. Bill MacMillan of Eastern Passage, N.S., received the Bruce Mitchell Volunteer of the Year Award. Volunteer Richard Smith of Regina and golf journalist Ian Hutchison of Newmarket, Ont., received Golf Canada’s Distinguished Service Award.
Celeste Dao of Notre-Dame-de-L’lle-Perrot, Que., a graduate of Team Canada’s National Junior Squad, won the NCAA’s Gold Rush tournament in California.
Nick Taylor shot a final-round 2-under-par 70 to claim a wire-to-wire four-stroke victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California. Taylor overcame 40 mph gusts of winds and finished at 19-under to become the first Canadian to win the event.
Golf Canada named the 2020 Young Pro Squads: Hugo Bernard, Jared du Toit, Stuart Macdonald, Taylor Pendrith, Chris Crisologo and Joey Savoie for the men and Jaclyn Lee, Brittany Marchand and Maddie Szeryk for the women.
As the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic enveloped not only Canada but the world, governments ordered the shutdown of non-essential businesses, which in most provinces included golf courses.
The Summer Olympics, scheduled to begin in July in Tokyo, are postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic. They will still be called the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, however.
Canadian Scott Pritchard, previously vice-president of the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, is promoted to executive director.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most golf courses across Canada did not open on schedule this spring. Although those in British Columbia were never ordered to close, those in other provinces were shuttered until they were allowed to open when stringent anti-COVID safeguards were in place. New Brunswick courses opened April 24 with the balance of the provinces following suit throughout the month of May.
Golf Canada announced the formation of the Golf Industry Advisory Council, a volunteer group of experienced professionals to support Golf Canada’s Board of Directors and management team. The council will include course owners, operators, general managers, superintendents and professionals as well as executives from the golf equipment, apparel and footwear industry.
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame announced Lorie Kane of Charlottetown was among six athletes and five builders who will receive the Order of Sports award, Canada’s highest sporting honour.
The Prince Edward Island Golf Association named Alison Griffin as its new executive director.
The PGA TOUR announced that it would resume without spectators in June. The Tour had suspended play since The Players Championship was cancelled in March.
Despite months of planning, the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the founding of Golf Canada on June 6, 1895, also fell victim to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the historic occasion was commemorated virtually with pivotal moments in Canadian golf being recalled on social media platforms using the hashtag #GolfCanada125.
The Golf Canada Women in Coaching Program, a partnership between Golf Canada and the PGA of Canada with the goal of putting the sport on the path to further balance between the sexes at a high level, was announced.
Golf Canada and U.S.-based First Tee announced the launch of First Tee-Canada. The partnership will bring First Tee’s youth development emphasis to strengthen Golf Canada’s junior golf activities —previously conducted under the Future Links brand — that reach kids in schools and at golf facilities. The innovative First Tee curriculum will focus on empowering young people to build strength of character through the game of golf.
The third annual CP Women’s Leadership Summit, held virtually due to the pandemic, provided inspiring stories and a networking opportunity along with accepting donations for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation. Hosted by TSN anchor Lindsay Hamilton, speakers included golfers Lorie Kane and Brooke Henderson, Olympians Marnie McBean and Perdita Felicien and other prominent women in leadership positions. “It was a success story for us,” said Mary Beth McKenna, assistant RBC Canadian Open tournament director who has co-led the event since it began.
The Golf Journalists Association of Canada announced that Kim Locke of Toronto, founder and president of SCOREGolf, was the 2020 recipient of the Dick Grimm Award. The association’s highest honour is awarded in memory of the late Richard Grimm whose legendary service to the RBC Canadian Open and the Canadian golf industry remains unparalleled.
Laurent Desmarchais of Bromont, Que., a member of Team Canada’s junior squad, went wire-to-wire to win the season-ending Canada Life Series Championship at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley.
PGA TOUR Champions rookie Mike Weir of Bright’s Grove, Ont., had victory in sight leading by three strokes heading into the final round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Virginia but fellow rookie Phil Mickelson denied him the win. It was Weir’s third top-10 finish in eight starts on the tour.
PGA of Canada member Jennifer Greggain of Chilliwack, B.C., was named coach of the National Junior Squads by Golf Canada, working with head coach Robert Ratliffe.
Findlay Young of Prince George, B.C., a former Golf Canada president and honourary life governor, passed away at the age of 92.
Twenty-nine athletes, male and female, were named by Golf Canada to represent Team Canada as part of the 2021 national Amateur and Junior Squads. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all athletes from the 2020 squad were able to return in 2021, provided they met team eligibility criteria.
Aaron Cockerill of Stone Mountain, Man., finished T4 at the JoBurg Open in South Africa, his best career finish on the European Tour.
The Economic Impact of Golf in Canada (2019) report, conducted on behalf of the national Allied Golf Associations (We Are Golf), was released. Among its findings were that the Canadian golf industry generated $18.2 billion in economic benefits, employs the equivalent of nearly 249,000 people through direct and spin-off effects and contributed to $10.6 billion in household income.
⛳️ Accounts for an estimated $18.2B of Canada’s GDP ⛳️ Directly employed nearly 150,000 full-time positions ⛳️ Contributed $4.8B in household income
Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., finished in a tie for 10th at the Masters, which was postponed from its traditional April date due to the pandemic. That finish guaranteed him a spot in the 2021 Masters.
Golf Genius Software, the leading worldwide provider of tournament management solutions, announced that Golf Canada and the provincial golf associations will begin using Golf Genius Tournament Management for their competitions in 2021.
So while what lies ahead for 2021 remains unclear, we can only hope that when we compile next year’s “Year in Review,” life as we know it will have returned to a semblance of normality, on the course and off.
Kevin Blue named Chief Sport Officer of Golf Canada
Golf Canada is pleased to announce that Kevin Blue has joined the National Sport Federation as its new Chief Sport Officer.
A dynamic and accomplished executive, coach, and high-performance golfer, Blue joins the Executive Team of the National Sport Federation after serving nearly five years as Director of Athletics for the University of California, Davis, an NCAA Division I institute.
His responsibilities with Golf Canada as Chief Sport Officer include the oversight, management and strategic development of key functional areas including golf services with a focus on membership; high-performance player development; sport and junior programs including First Tee – Canada; amateur competitions; and governing body activities across the Rules of Golf, Handicapping, Course Rating and Amateur Status. Blue will be a lead contact with numerous provincial, national, and international stakeholders.
“Kevin brings a depth of executive leadership experience across business, education, coaching and high-performance sport, and we are thrilled to have him elevate our sport, golf services and player development activities,” said Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum. “He is a transformative leader and passionate advocate for Canadian golf who will bring tremendous energy and enthusiasm to improving the golfer, facility and athlete experience at all levels.”
For Blue, born in Montreal and raised in Toronto, the opportunity to return to Canada to champion the growth of golf was an opportunity to apply his executive leadership experiences across the sport that has been a lifelong passion.
“Golf has impacted my life in extraordinary ways,” said Blue. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to return home and help to extend the reach of our sport to more Canadians. I’m also very excited to partner with our athletes, coaches, and many others in the golf community nation-wide to continue building Canada’s global prominence in the sport we love.”
As Director of Athletics for the University of California, Davis, Blue oversaw a $41M athletic department featuring 25 collegiate teams. He led record-setting fundraising campaigns at UC Davis that supported coaching endowments, athlete scholarships, and the construction of multi-million-dollar facilities including a $52M student-athlete performance centre currently under construction. In addition to facilitating all-time academic results for student-athletes and competitive success on the field of play, he implemented a formal diversity, equity and inclusion strategy for coaches and senior-level hires as well as mandatory implicit bias training for all employees.
Prior to joining UC Davis, Blue honed his executive management skills over three years as the Senior Associate Athletic Director, External Relations with Stanford University where he had oversight of key external business units including ticket sales, sponsorships, marketing, communications, business strategy, ticket operations, fan experience, and video. As a key member of the athletic department senior executive team, he contributed to strategic planning, policy, personnel, sponsor relations, and university integration in addition to launching the Pac-12 Network at Stanford. As a Lecturer at Stanford, he taught an introductory Sport Psychology course and constructed a curriculum that surveyed topics related to peak performance, talent development and mental health. He also taught a graduate level course on Strategic Management for Sport Business at the University of San Francisco.
Other leadership roles during his time at Stanford included three years as Associate Athletic Director and two years as an Athletics Department Fellow. Prior to Stanford, Blue was involved in high-performance golf, providing sport psychology and short game coaching to professional and elite amateur golfers.
An accomplished amateur golfer growing up in Toronto, Blue played in numerous provincial and national amateur competitions and spent time with Golf Canada’s National Junior Golf Team (prior to the formation of the Team Canada program) and represented Canada at the 2001 Toyota Junior Golf World Cup in Japan. He attended Stanford University on a varsity golf scholarship where he earned his B.A. in Psychology, was a captain on the golf team, and was an NCAA Academic All-American.
He went on to attend Michigan State University where earned his Ph.D. in Sport Psychology and then completed an executive education program at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Blue has authored a multitude of articles on topics related to sport, education, and business.
Blue will be returning to Canada with his wife Betsy and their four children and is set to begin his role as Golf Canada’s Chief Sport Officer in early January 2021.