Following suit of other national sports agencies, Golf Canada is experimenting with a year-round residency program for elite junior golfers.
Set up at Bear Mountain Golf Resort, 10 of the top junior players in Canada, up to five of each girls and boys, live with billets at the Victoria, B.C. property. Director of Golf at the 1,100-acre property, Mike Ridout said Golf Canada investigated several locations before choosing Bear Mountain for the three-year pilot project.
“I think Bear Mountain is a terrific choice because of the facilities and amenities,” Ridout said during the CP Women’s Open in Regina. “With 36-holes of (Jack) Nicklaus golf, with a resort community the athletes are able to live right on the mountain. We had the infrastructure and resources to create the partnership with Golf Canada.”
The nation’s mountain biking association and Tennis Canada have programs stationed at Bear Mountain as well. Ridout said recent success of other amateur sports in Canada and the “Own the Podium” strategy incorporated prior to the 2010 Olympics are reasons for the golf program test.
“When you look at the other sports that they are building upon these residency programs, that’s the only way to compete in their minds. Golf Canada said let’s take that step forward and let’s see what a residency program does for our athletes and to our program,” he said.
Athletes in the golf program are full-time students while attending. The golfers have access to sports psychologists, nutritionists, and personal trainers to assist in their development. Ridout said the entire program doesn’t just progress the athletes in a certain discipline, the level of Canada’s coaches elevates too.
“It shows externally we’re not only looking at the high-performance athlete, but it provides our coaches a tremendous opportunity to learn from the best coaches. To have elite players around to understand teaching philosophies,” he said.
“Whether it’s golf, or tennis, or mountain biking, you have that mindset of winning and how to get better,” Ridout added.
Golf Canada is looking at utilizing the facility with members of the national team as well. Their games can be developed at Bear Mountain, plus the juniors can learn from the more experienced players. Ridout said having a couple other teams visit will make the program better.
“The National Team and Young Pro team, so Brittany Marchand who played in the CP event, they will travel out as well. That’s going to be more of an importance for Golf Canada to have other teams come out for significant training periods at Bear Mountain,” he said.
The announcement to have the national teams work with Bear Mountain was made by Golf Canada in November, 2015.