The financial difficulties faced by municipal courses across the country is something that hits close to home.
My dad’s been playing for years and he just loves playing a fun game of golf. He can’t afford the $200 round every time he plays and it’s nice just to play a fun course, either at a muni or an affordable public course.
I started playing golf when I was about 15 or 16. I’m sure I played some mini-golf before, but I had a couple of buddies in school who played and one was Doug Reid, whose dad was a big golfer.
My dad and I used to go to a par three and it was fun, but one day, Mr. Reid took us to Seaton in Pickering, Ont.
They offered a junior membership for about $100 and we thought if we were going to play a lot that summer, we should take advantage of that offer. We joined and probably played 100 rounds and by the end of the year, I started working there.
I have great memories of the people there. Bruno Berei was one of the first people I met at Seaton. He was probably 10 years older than me and when you’re 16, that’s an older guy, but he would play with me and befriend me.
I still stay in touch with people from Seaton, many of them at Coppinwood now. I’d work, get off and go play golf. I learned the rules of the game, the etiquette, and developed a work ethic there. It was a fantastic upbringing and I still have lifelong friends there.
I remember that we would have people who played regularly at Seaton who were maybe young adults at the time taking up the game and loving it and then, after a few years, moved on to private clubs.
People get hooked on the game and enjoy the game and, as they progress in life, they seek more of a club atmosphere. A club like Seaton and municipal courses can be a springboard for golfers.
I remember playing many of Toronto’s city-run courses such as Dentonia Park, Tam O’Shanter and Don Valley.
I think there’s a natural progression and without the grassroots golf courses, or even grassroots hockey programs, some people might never get into the game or be able to afford the game.
With the grassroots golf courses, they instead say, `I love this game and I’m going to take it to the next level,’ or `I was a junior, but now I have a job and I can join a club I’ve always wanted to join or play a course I’ve always wanted to play.’
I’ve seen it happen, which makes it a shame for the golf industry if we continue to lose them.