Alberta Junior Golf Roadmap

Written by Kevin Smith


One of the many initiatives that Alberta Golf is looking to unveil in 2019 is the establishment of a pathway to help junior golfers navigate the road to post-secondary education. This pathway will be called The Junior Golf Roadmap.

“Our goal is to help clarify the competitive pathway for players in Alberta” said Jennifer Davison, Director of Sport Development and High Performance. “We often hear from families that there is confusion surrounding the idea of playing competitively in the province and where competitive golf can lead them. We field questions that range from beginner opportunities, all the way to post-secondary opportunities. The Junior Golf Roadmap will help clarify the routes that players can take.”

Golf Canada already has a junior competitive pathway but Alberta Golf wants to create one that is Alberta-specific for the players in our province.

To develop The Alberta Junior Golf Roadmap consultation with families is invaluable to find out what struggles they had in guiding their players through junior golf and beyond.

The de Graaf family from Edmonton is one of those families. Marlene de Graaf knew her son Ethan had promise in the sport of golf when he was young, but had no idea how to get him started. She didn’t know how to set him up for success when it came to finding a scholarship in the U.S. or get him on the radar of a Canadian University.

“By the time Ethan was 15 or 16 we had no idea what options were available,” said de Graaf. “The feedback we got from coaches in the U.S. was ‘Ethan looks like a great player but we’re done recruiting for this year; we’re recruiting into 2019 & 2020’. We realized we should have started this process when Ethan was in grade 9.”

The de Graafs realized they were too late to find a U.S. school for Ethan but not too late for here in Canada. Ethan is happily playing in his first year at UBC but they remember all the questions they had when he was young. Those questions included: ‘ how do we find out about tournaments, which tournaments should we choose, how do you find a coach, what should our budget be, how do we find college recruiters and what exactly is an order of merit’? They would love to see this new roadmap help other families in the future.

“As one of the older parents who’s been through it, I’m having parents come to me in the same position I was five years ago asking, ‘ what do we do, how does this work’ ?” said de Graaf. “It was really frustrating when you’re new to the golf community to actually know how to get into all of these things, so a junior golf roadmap will definitely help families that are new to golf or new to golf in Alberta.”

Annabelle Ackroyd just graduated William Aberhart High School in Calgary.  She is heading to the University of Minnesota this fall. Her father Carson says the process to find the right post-secondary option for his daughter started in grade 10.

“It’s important to have somebody to provide some counsel and direction on what kind of events you need to play in,” said Ackroyd.  “It’s important to find out what events post-secondary recruiters are going to be at and how to approach them. Information on how early on you need to start would be incredibly helpful to any family that’s looking to get into that area.”

Which brings us back to Alberta Golf and their plan to give families the tools to get their players to where Ethan and Annabelle are in a much smoother manner. Coaches will be discussing some of the requirements needed to play post-secondary golf. There will be a big focus on the under-15 bantam level so it’s not overwhelming for parents and so that they don’t think they are going to make unfixable mistakes.

“Expanding our offering at our championship events for juniors will allow for an open dialogue between the players and the association,” said Davison. “Our goal is to be a resource for these players and to help them find the information they need to make the best decision for their future.”

Alberta Golf wants to take the pressure off of families and steer the focus away from just being competitive. They want to make families aware that there are also post-secondary opportunities for players that are more education-focused and not all about high performance golf. It’s a roadmap no different than in hockey. There are recreational players and competitive players and the goal is to make sure that the roadmap feels inclusive to everybody versus just being for highly competitive players. With input from families and key stakeholders in the industry Alberta Golf is striving to provide a clear roadmap for what has historically been a challenging process.

Alberta Junior Golf Roadmap

This article was originally published in the 2019 edition of The Alberta Golfer Magazine. To view the full magazine, click here.




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