Canucks, PGA of BC help youth swing into sum­mer

Head­ing into its fourth year, Canucks Ju­nior Golf Week ex­poses hun­dreds of youth to the beau­ti­ful game of golf

BC Business Magazine - - Golf -

It's a suc­cess story where the prov­ince's pre-em­i­nent sports brand is help­ing grow an­other sport.

Canucks Ju­nior Golf Week, pre­sented by Od­lum Brown Lim­ited, launched in 2014 and has since wel­comed nearly 2,000 youth par­tic­i­pants—the vast ma­jor­ity of whom had no pre­vi­ous golf ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Van­cou­ver Canucks put their name be­hind the pro­gram and work to pro­mote the ini­tia­tive to more than 50,000 youth hockey play­ers, the PGA of BC over­sees the pro­gram and its lo­cal golf pro­fes­sion­als pro­vide the fun-based learn­ing at­mos­phere at cour­ses and driv­ing ranges all over the prov­ince.

“The rea­son we're in­volved as a hockey team is one of our main goals is to make sure the youth of to­day are as ac­tive as pos­si­ble, and we're en­cour­ag­ing them to get out­side and en­joy a sport as great as golf,” says Rod Brath­waite of the Canucks Cen­tre for BC Hockey and alumni li­ai­son. “Pro­mot­ing ac­tive liv­ing is im­por­tant to us. We also be­lieve in kids be­com­ing well-rounded ath­letes and learn­ing life skills such as good sports­man­ship and in­ter­act­ing well with oth­ers.”

Golf pro­fes­sional Chris Lutes is the PGA of BC'S 2016 Ju­nior Golf Leader of the Year and works out of the Northview Golf Academy. He has seen how the pro­gram has grown, from his first classes of 20 stu­dents to last year, when he had 65 on the first day and 80 on the sec­ond day, which kept him and his fel­low teach­ing pro­fes­sion­als be­yond busy.

“Per­haps our big­gest high­light is the ob­sta­cle course sta­tion which is run by (Northview col­league) Lind­say Man­ion,” says Lutes. “The kids are tested on their agility, their co­or­di­na­tion, their bal­ance and it re­ally helps de­velop over­all ath­leti­cism. But there's al­ways a lot of fun too. It al­ways ends with a tug of war.”

For Lutes, who has ded­i­cated his ca­reer to help­ing youths be­come more well-rounded ath­letes and more com­plete golfers, see­ing their progress warms his heart.

“I re­mem­ber a brother and sis­ter who I had in the first year, they were seven or eight and they had never picked up a club be­fore,” re­calls Lutes. “Now I see them, they're not only play­ing, they're dip­ping their toes into ju­nior com­pe­ti­tions.”

Canucks Ju­nior Golf Week runs from July 2-9 this sum­mer. Last year, ap­prox­i­mately 700 chil­dren aged 5 to 18 par­tic­i­pated in one-day camps held at 32 golf fa­cil­i­ties, with many lo­ca­tions host­ing mul­ti­ple camps.

The camp cost is $20 per child and while each golf pro de­signs their own pro­gram, the camps are gen­er­ally one to two hours each, and par­tic­i­pants get in­tro­duc­tions to putting, chip­ping, driv­ing and golf etiquette. Equip­ment is pro­vided at the camps and par­tic­i­pants also take home a golf gift or ap­parel branded with the Canucks logo.

Lutes says he is pas­sion­ate about the pro­gram for a very good rea­son.

“Golf has meant so much to me. I love show­ing kids how won­der­ful this game can be. I have the chance to share some­thing that has been a huge part of my life for the past 25 years. It is the ba­sis for some of my strong­est re­la­tion­ships and that's some­thing I hope to teach them.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about Canucks Ju­nior Golf Week head to www.pgabc.org/golfweek. Reg­is­tra­tion will run from the end of April through to June 23 and you can sign your child up at www.canucks.com/golfweek.

Fin with some en­thu­si­as­tic par­tic­i­pants of Canucks Ju­nior Golf Week

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