As an individual sport golf is different than others when it comes to opportunities and experiences, that is a large reason several parents of junior golfers are stepping up to create memories and moments for all kids involved in the game.
From this initiative Saskatchewan Junior Golf (SJG) was created as a sub-committee under Golf Saskatchewan. Rob Kozak is the committee lead of SJG and spearheaded the idea with other parents quickly jumping on board. Kozak said the idea came to light while volunteering for the local swim club in Yorkton.
“There were probably over 50 sports and activities at city-wide registration but, I made the realization at that time there was no sign-up sheet for golf,” Kozak explained. “One of the most popular sports in the world but no local association for young athletes to join. This isn’t just the case in Yorkton but all over Saskatchewan and Canada, there are no local associations for the sport of golf which has a negative impact on the growth of the game and development of young players. The solution we have come up with is to form a provincial body of parents, caregivers, and volunteers to help drive the development of the sport instead of a local association in each community. We can leverage the network of families across the province to help juniors reach their full potential.”
Through fundraising from both the committee and players themselves, either beginners or highly competitive players under 19 years old or competing with college golf programs and be a Golf Canada member Kozak hopes to grow the game. He spoke of hockey and other team sports that travel to events, they travel via bus with their friends and teammates creating more memories than just the results on the ice or field. He wants those experiences not only for his daughter Ella who has been competing in junior golf for seven years but her friends and other golfers.
“One of the main functions of a local association is to fundraise to help offset the cost to practice and compete, golf not only doesn’t have a framework to fundraise for families it has an additional barrier as the Rules of Golf has stipulations on money raised by amateur golfers. We have developed a framework that will not only allow us to fundraise as a group but also as an individual to help offset costs for development. In addition to fundraising, we also want to create a sense of team with group training and competitive opportunities for players to form friendships in an otherwise predominately individual sport.”
Steve Ryde has worked closely with Kozak and the committee on launching the program. Ryde is the Golf Saskatchewan manager of sport and development. He said the initiative is exciting.
“This is a huge step in the right direction for junior golf in Sask. We have a large province with a small population of competitive players. I hope that this fundraising initiative helps open the flood gates for years to come,” Ryde said.
The program is open to anyone under 19 as mentioned with an annual ‘membership fee’ of $10. College golfers can be eligible up to the age of 24. The membership fee is used to offset administrative costs including but not limited to bank fees, membership cards, online and technology hosting costs, etc.
For more information on the SJG visit the Golf Saskatchewan website, or contact Ryde at 306.975.0834 or Kozak at 306.621.5047.