Laying the ‘Foundation’ for collegiate golf in Canada
The Canadian University/College Championship touched down in Winnipeg for the first time in the championship’s history.
In all, 154 of Canada’s top post-secondary talents vie for their respective team and individual national titles, but what many don’t know is the role the Golf Canada Foundation plays behind the scenes in supporting these universities and colleges long before they ever compete at this national championship.
Since 2004, the Foundation has been granting funds to programs across the country as a whole. Each year, schools apply to receive grants and the Foundation distributes valuable dollars to selected qualifying programs. In the past decade, the foundation has distributed over $1.6 million in grants that were either used for operational funding, scholarship funding or capital projects at Canadian post-secondary institutions and colleges.
The University of the Fraser Valley Cascades are relatively new to the Canadian University/College athletic landscape and their Head Coach Chris Bertram is grateful for the opportunities the Foundation has given his team.
“Last year was the first year we were successful in our application for the Foundation and it had a massive impact right off the bat,” Bertram said.
“We have two teams and with our men’s program we had a really strong core group of players and there were a couple of young prospects I was trying to get to come and play at the university. By getting a bit of extra money it gave us the ability to offer a few more scholarships and it gave us those extra pieces that we needed.”
In order to qualify for grants through the Golf Canada Foundation, a team needs a dedicated (full or part-time) coach and a men’s and women’s program. They need to have a competitive schedule and also show a willingness to compete in the national championship.
The Cascades Head Coach was quick to point out those dollars received played a vital part in his Cascades squad winning both the men’s and women’s CCAA National Championships earlier this season. The ability to attract some great players with more scholarships out of the gate he said made a ‘huge impact’ for both his rosters and the success his players have had is a reflection of that.
“I’ve been involved with the program for 10 years and we started really on a shoestring,” Bertram said. “The university gave us a bit of money but post- secondary budgets are getting tighter in Canada and the athletics programs really feel that and our program is no exception.”
Bertram’s thoughts were echoed at Southwood Golf and Country Club by the University of Manitoba Bisons’ Head Coach, Garth Goodbrandson.
“The Foundation has basically kept our program alive over the years, we’re not funded by the university which makes things a little tough but the fact is we’ve done a lot of fundraising and we try to keep the program together and the foundation really got us started,” Goodbrandson said. “We’ve been very fortunate, very appreciative and very proud of where the program has gone.”
As the host university, the Bisons will look to pick up their first national title in the history of the program.
“Recruiting has never been too much of an issue, financially it’s the biggest challenge,” Goodbrandson continued. “We want to make our program one that’s comparable to a U.S. program and I think over the years we’re getting closer and closer to doing so and the players are really starting to believe in staying here in Canada.”
“You can see it with the quality of the Canadian Championship how much it’s improved over the years,” he continued.
The Foundation not only benefits institutions it also provides individual players academic scholarships. Last year there were 14 scholarships valued at $51,000 awarded to players from coast-to-coast.
As a recipient of one of the 14 scholarships, Devon Rizzo of the University of Waterloo is a past individual champion of the Canadian/University Championship. She said her decision to stay and play in Canada was an easy one.
“One of the main reasons was the program, I wanted to take Management Engineering and Waterloo is well known for their Engineering programs,” Rizzo said. “I met our coach Carla and she kind of sealed the deal because I could get the best of both worlds at Waterloo – I could compete at a high level, with a great coach and a great team and get the schooling that I wanted.”
Rizzo hasn’t only benefited from the scholarship program once, she’s been a multiple recipient and recommends any collegiate golfer in Canada apply.
“Our coach usually sends us the links, they’re very easy to apply for I recommend everyone applies for them they’re not too difficult and don’t take too much of your time and are very beneficial,” she continued. “The scholarship helps me pay for my schooling, university costs a lot of money and every bit helps and it’s fantastic.”
To find out more information on available scholarships and how athletic golf programs can apply for grants from the Golf Canada Foundation please contact Spencer Snell, Operation Manager for the Golf Canada Foundation by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1-800-263-0009 ext. 265. Additional information can also be found on the Foundation’s website www.golfcanadafoundation.com.