Despite a final-round stumble, Ottawa-native Brad Fritsch earned himself an exemption into this week’s PGA Tour event in Phoenix, and perhaps, earned a place at the top of many Canadian’s minds as an athlete to watch for 2013.
But, most likely, if you’re a young Canadian and into sports, playing professional golf is not one of your main goals.
This could be true for multiple reasons. The season in Canada is short; ten months maybe on the West Coast, realistically only six months anywhere else.
The game is expensive, and it’s singular. There’s no denying this. There are also no true public places to practice or play, unlike the frozen ponds or open fields that scatter both rural and urban Canadian landscapes.
Golf Canada, as the governing body for the game in this country, is putting programs in place to try to help to increase the engagement of young people with the game, programs like Golf in Schools, and CN Future Links.
These are the kinds of things that can help to encourage young Canadians to take up golf, yes, but now more than ever, kids need to be inspired.
Whether you’re a young boy or girl, there needs to be idols that you can look up to, try to emulate, and recognize as someone who has done what you want to do.
For Canadians, there will always be the never-ending list of Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash, Haley Wickenheiser, or Christine Sinclair wannabes – men and women who have made it to the top of their respective sports, inspiring a nation of young boys and girls to do the same.
Mike Weir should be included on that list, too. A major champion, someone who once said that if “I can raise more money for charities, or get more Canadian kids to play golf, the green jacket will mean even more.”
Weir has not been as inspirational in recent years – inspiring questions more than anything about his game, and his own future.
But now there is a new crop of Canadians in golf – a first, in this new era of the game – that can, and should, take golf onto their respective backs and show kids that just because the average temperature for a quarter of a Canadian year matches Tiger Woods’ winning score from this past week’s Farmers Insurance Open, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a desire to be a professional golfer.
Take Fritsch, for example. The aforementioned Ottawa-native is a rookie this year on the PGA Tour, at the age of 35. He’s been through the grind of mini-tours, and so far has made the cut in all three of the events he has played. His tie for ninth yesterday earned him a place into the next tournament, where he is looking to build off of his early-season successes.
One of his main sponsors is his hometown NHL team, the Ottawa Senators. What could be more Canadian than that?
Take Brooke Henderson, another example. The native of Smiths Falls was victorious at the South American amateur women’s championship in Colombia last weekend, and earlier this month, she helped Team Canada win the Copa de las Americas team competition in Miami.
Henderson qualified for the 2012 CN Women’s Open championship as well, and was the youngest person ever to compete in the event. She has her eyes set on another appearance in that tournament later this summer. Did I mention that she is all of fifteen years old, and barely through high school?
One also can’t forget about Vancouver-native Adam Hadwin, who is grinding away on the Web.Com Tour – and making waves early on the PGA Tour season as well. There’s also LPGA Q-School medalist Rebecca Lee–Bentham, who is set to make her debut on that tour this year.
Or how about returning PGA Stars David Hearn, and Graham DeLaet? DeLaet, who tied with Fritsch for ninth this past week, has a good chance to represent Canada at this year’s Presidents Cup.
A Fritsch top-10 finish could just be the beginning of a successful 2013 for Canadian golfers. It may be cold right now across the country, but golf leaderboards are warming up with Canadian flags.
Inspiration is abound for young athletes, why not look at golf? Now is as good a time as any for that inspiration to be capitalized on.