Highlights from Golf Ontario’s inaugural Golf Jam, Sept. 11 at Hawk Ridge Golf Club in Orillia.
Video: Golf Jam 2016
Inaugural Golf Ontario/Golf Barrie Golf Jam a huge success
ORILLIA— Golf Ontario and Golf Barrie unveiled a new concept on September 11 with the first Golf Jam, hosted by Hawk Ridge Golf & Country Club in Orillia. The day, geared at junior golfers under 14 years of age, was a huge success as 64 players comprised 16 teams to take part in the day’s events.
“Golf Jam is a program that we’ve partner with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport to create and provide to kids across the province. It aims to engage local golf clubs and promote fun family, friends and fitness all in a team environment,” said Mike Kelly, Golf Ontario Executive Director.
The day broke down into two components: a CN Future Links Skills Challenge and a nine-hole alternate shot team golf competition. Half of the teams took to the course, while the other half competed in the skills challenge, before swapping after lunch.
“I believe we continue to create and inspire new ways for kids and families to get into golf but this just blew my mind,” added Kelly. “Based on the reaction from coaches, kids and parents, I see this as a home run! I see it going to different communities across Ontario in future years because it is a great way to bring the province together.”
Kelly’s optimism was echoed by coaches and parents who attended the day. “Golf Jam is a great introduction for players who have participated in our camps, clinics and leagues to be involved in potentially their first tournament,” said Ryan Star, Coach at Geared to Golf. “There are a lot of players who haven’t crossed paths with one another so we hope that there are a lot of new friendships by the end of the day.”
“The day has been fantastic!” Remarked Kevin Potter, a parent attending the event. “What Golf Ontario is doing for the kids is awesome! It is great to see the team sprit and everyone has a smile on their face today! The team competition was a lot of fun. It was well put together and we had a great time playing the alternate-shot format.”
Those sentiments also trickled down to the young golfers themselves who not only enjoyed the golf and skills challenge, but also the fun and games that made up the rest of the day.
“Today has been great especially since we just started school and have been really busy,” said Abigail Dove, 11-years-old from Brooklin. “To have all of these fun things to do like golf with friends, bouncy castles, and play games has been great to enjoy!”
“My favorite part of the day was golfing on the course. I played awesome and so did the rest of my team. Golf Jam has been good and lots of fun. I like it!” Added Aiden Hodgkinson, 8-years-old from Brooklin.
While the emphasis on the day was squarely around fun the teams did want bragging rights as the inaugural Golf Jam champs. When all of the scores were tallied there was a three-way tie between Whistle Bear GC (Peyton Costabile, Andreas Diogenous, Owen Lipskie and Aiden Shan), Barrie CC (David Simon, Andrew Laurin, Olivia Stoggart and Matthew Simon), and TTGA (Alissa Xu, Sopia Xu, Arthur Wang and Joline Truong) who all finished with a score of 21 Stableford points to share the gold medal.
Golf Ontario/Golf Barrie would like to thank all of the golfers, teams, coaches and parents who participated in the event and hopes to see everyone next year, as the event gets bigger and better.
GAO Officially Launches Golf Barrie Community Golf Initiative
BARRIE — The Golf Association of Ontario (GAO) and its community partners officially launched the Golf Barrie Community Golf initiative on Jan. 20. The day featured a pair of events, beginning with a stakeholders meeting followed by the official launch.
Barrie was selected as the first Golf Community by the GAO because of its diverse number of private and public course, strong community ties, festivals and events, and its engaged golf industry.
The community golf project aims to get individuals of all ages and backgrounds playing golf and creates a bridge between courses, community partners and golfers. The goal is to bring more people to the game and keep them playing for life. The movement also addresses the national need to develop all stages of the Long Term Athlete Development model.
Wednesday’s event began with a stakeholders meeting at Tangle Creek Golf & Country Club, where the golf club owners finalized the foundation for 2016 activities. The event was well received with members from 23 area courses in attendance.
The event then shifted to the Kenzington Burger Bar where the initiative was officially presented to the public. On hand was City of Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman who talked about the benefits of golf and voiced his support for the project and stated that his office will be available to help make the project a success.
GAO Executive Director Mike Kelly laid out the GAO’s goals for the project and stressed that the association is here for the courses to help them execute it to its maximum potential. “This is a special project that is being done for the first time. Barrie as a community should feel extremely proud that they are pioneering such an initiative.”
GAO Director of Marketing and Communications Kyle McFarlane went on to speak about the project itself. “Golf is more than just a game, it builds character, values and life skills while promoting healthy active living. It builds relationships on and off the course and helps to connect family and friends.”
Emphasized at the event was the Try, Learn and Play aspect of the initiative. Golf Barrie will be present at numerous events in Barrie and Simcoe County, beginning in February to introduce people to the sport, with an emphasis on fun. This can be through opportunities such as Golf in Schools, which the local golf industry has already sponsored 24 local schools, festivals and through current programs like She Swings She Scores/ He Swings He Scores, which brings golf into hockey arenas to introduce minor hockey players to the sport.
The Learn aspect is where the clubs will come in and offer their own programming by matching the individual from a Try initiative with a Learn program at a course near them. The aim is to help people take that next step in golf. Finally, the Play aspect is having those people who have now learned to play the game get out to the courses and play.
To help bridge the events and opportunities in Barrie, Golf Barrie will launch a website that will feature a schedule of events that Golf Barrie will have a presence at to Try golf, a list of Learn opportunities at Barrie courses, a course directory and local golf news. However, that is not the only thing that will be set up. Golf Barrie plans to roll out the Commit to Golf Barrie pledge, which golfers will be able to register for, take the pledge as to how many times they hope to play in 2016, and then be entered in draws for prizes for meeting those goals.
An important aspect of the project is its partnership with Georgian College and its Golf Management Program. The college has already committed one of its classes to be trained to help with the Golf In Schools program. This will allow those students to go to schools, with a certified instructor, to deliver programs. A community Golf Coach certification course has also been planned and spots have already been reserved for Georgian students.
“This partnership is extremely important to us,” said McFarlane. “What we have observed in Barrie is that facilities that don’t offer programs for beginners not because they don’t want to but rather because they don’t have someone on staff all season to teach the programs. By training the instructors and having courses in the area share them, more programs at the Learn level can be offered. By having the students take certification programs, more qualified individuals will be available to teach these programs.”
Georgian College also has a capstone project that will develop a consumer behavior profile for Golf Barrie. The group will identify who the golfers are, what they want out of the local industry and any current barriers. This way Golf Barrie will be able to make adjustments for future initiatives.
In 2016, the Golf Barrie initiative hopes to deliver more than 70 golf awareness event days, host a Family Golf Festival, support and promote Learn programs at golf courses and establish community relations to ensure stability. With these objectives, it is hoped that more than 15,000 people can be exposed to golf.
Golf Barrie Summit met with positive reception
BARRIE, Ontario – The Golf Association of Ontario (GAO) and its industry partners hosted the inaugural Golf Barrie Summit on November 16th at Innisbrook Golf Course. Golf stakeholders from across Barrie and the surrounding area were invited to attend and learn about the new Golf Barrie community golf initiative. In attendance were representatives from 20 different golf courses/facilities and five industry partners, including Golf Canada’s CEO, Scott Simmons.
Golf Barrie was conceptualized in 2015 and will be launching and rolling out into the community with the goal of growing the awareness and participation of golf in 2016. The approach is based on the philosophy that golf has a role to play in community development. Golf Barrie will address our national needs to develop the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model at the grassroots level.
The Golf Barrie events team will be out in the community at 40 community events this coming winter and summer promoting the opportunity for individuals to try golf and providing them with information on where to learn and play throughout the region. The initiative will bring golf to the community with the goal of bringing the community into golf.