Gordon on Golf

Wanted: An investor for golf’s future

(Chuck Russell/Golf Canada)

Some would call it sponsorship. I prefer to call it an investment in the future of the game.

Specifically, I am talking about Golf Canada’s Future Links programming.

Jeff Thompson, Golf Canada’s Chief Sport Officer, says: “Future Links is a suite of national junior programs that serve as the foundation of a systematic development system for the sport of golf in Canada.  All programs have been developed utilizing Canada’s Long Term Player Development program as the basis, with each program with the Future Links family serving a slightly different purpose to assist in developing and supporting learn and excel through the sport.

“Thanks to our previous sponsors, we have been able to provide all of these resources to facilities and golf professionals at no cost.”

The phrase “previous sponsors” brings me to today’s theme.

Since 1996, more than three million Canadian youngsters have participated in CN Future Links programming, thanks to the railway company’s generous sponsorship of the multi-faceted “grow-the-game” initiatives.

But after more than a decade of underwriting the various programs, CN’s sponsorship is coming to an end after this season and Golf Canada is seeking support from corporate Canada to continue this admirable initiative.

“CN was a wonderful partner who shared the vision of introducing the game of golf to children across Canada,” says Gavin Roth, Golf Canada’s Chief Commercial Officer. “We certainly were blessed for the past 10 years to have them and we appreciate deeply their commitment to the entire spectrum of Future Links programs.”

Future Links programs help young golfers develop the technical skills, appropriate attitude and self-confidence to succeed on the course while teaching them positive life lessons to succeed off the course. Through these programs, young girls and boys learn integrity, honesty, sportsmanship and responsibility. The gender split of participants is almost equal, with 55 per cent of them being boys and 45 per cent girls.

The scope and depth of Future Links are impressive, starting with the very young beginner and extending through high-level amateur competitions.

More than 500 facilities in 10 provinces deliver Future Links programming. More than 63,000 children were introduced to the game via more than 2,000 mobile clinic sessions across the country. This past year alone, there were 7,300 Learn to Play participants at almost 200 sites.

Another facet of the Future Links umbrella of programs is the Golf in Schools program, a national program that, since its inception, has been implemented in more than 3,100 elementary, intermediate and high schools.  Through a partnership with PHE Canada, the Golf in Schools program introduces more than 348,000 children to the game of golf each year.

Six Future Links Championships are conducted every year. These three-day tournaments expose more accomplished young golfers to top-level competition. Some of Canada’s best young golfers—Brooke Henderson, Maude-Aimée LeBlanc, Sue Kim, Graham DeLaet, Nick Taylor, and more—played in the Future Links Championships as part of their development.

“While we would love to have a single title sponsor for all Future Links programs, we welcome interest from sponsors who might want to undertake supporting a portion of the programming,” says Roth.

“The impact of Future Links has been incredible and we want to keep that momentum going to ensure the future of the game in Canada remains bright.”

Solid investments with guaranteed returns are hard to find. Future Links is the exception.

Time for corporate Canada to step up to the tee, once again.