I had the pleasure of sitting in on the first day of the PGA of Ontario’s 4ORE Learning gathering on Monday and was glad I did.
It began with the opening keynote featuring Todd Keirstead, best known for his Bring Back the Game program, former Canadian Football League quarterback Damon Allen, former Toronto Maple Leaf captain Rick Vaive and ex-Major League Baseball player Eric Owens, all great speakers with observations on how other sports relate to golf, along with their own life lessons.
Then came Masters of Retail and The Art of Selling featuring Justin O’Leary, head professional at Cedar Brae Golf Club in Toronto, Padraig Kelly, head professional at the Ladies Golf Club of Toronto, and Lesley Hawkins, general manager of adidas Golf Canada, along with moderator Mark Thompson, president of McKinley Solutions.
A lot of people said before and after that we spend a lot of time on education to become a head professional or teacher, but we don’t do a lot of retail. I know the PGA of Ontario is doing it and that’s something we want to follow with across Canada through our new Training Academy. We do have professionals who are great retail specialists such as Derek Orr at the Victoria Golf Club in British Columbia.
This industry has so many specialties now that offers our young people more options that those who came before them.
One of the highlights of the day was a Reverse Panel that I like to call the Young Guns that included Cameron Cox (Oviinbyrd Golf Club), Casey Ward (Credit Valley Golf and Country Club), Chris Dickenson (Stratford Country Club), Christopher Skidmore (National Golf Club of Canada) and Jordan Tandan (Rosedale Golf Club), with Doug Lawrie of the Credit Valley Golf and Country Club as moderator.
These were dynamic young people on the panel, talking about how young people may not go into the golf business, why being a head professional isn’t always their first choice and what needs to be done to retain young talent.
It was so refreshing and I was inspired by their maturity and how they want to be part of the solution and take a leadership role with the ideas they came up with and the candid way they spoke. I said to Matt Allen, our chief innovation officer, that this is something we need to get across the country.
People who have been in the business for a while are inclined to say “here’s the way we’ve done things,” but it’s refreshing to get younger people’s take on it, as well. They respect the roles of mentors, but it behooves us to listen to what they have to say because it’s their generation to which we’re trying to appeal now and in the future.
We have many great young people working in the golf industry and they have something to contribute, as do people from different segments of the industry and various age groups and even outside the industry, which emphasizes the importance of getting together to discuss those ideas in such forums.