Where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday when a small group of friends got together to play golf once a week. Di had just retired early from Healthcare and her buddies suggested she make the groups tee times as she had “nothing to do”. We were all beginner golfers who had belonged to a women’s league that folded and we really missed the group support and the friendships we had made. Di approached some golf courses to book a few tee times and little did we know it then but the Golfaround seeds were sown. It was 1997, we were a group of 12, “the dirty dozen” and along with a handful of spares we started a league of our own, playing at different courses around the city of Calgary.
Tiffany Gordon was then an Assistant golf professional at Cottonwood Golf and Country Club, and she had also taught some of the group. Tiff was very supportive of women’s golf and was aware that the fastest growing group of golfers at this time was women. She suggested that we introduce a lesson component to our venture and try to increase our numbers, in addition she recommended Shelly Charlton to be our head teaching instructor as Tiff had her hands full at Cottonwood. We followed her advice, feeling very insecure, as we knew little or nothing about the golf industry and Golfaround was born. As we were beginner golfers we knew what it felt like to go to a golf course with little or no skill or knowledge, we understood the intimidation as we had been there and felt that. This empathy, a passion for the game and a strong commitment to helping women learn and improve while having fun spearheaded the inception of a new business venture. Women’s golf was growing in leaps and bounds and we were in the right place at the right time. We would not have been successful with out the support of some wonderful people who we were lucky enough to have in our lives. The support of the golf community was second to none and we are so very grateful. In 1998 we had grown to 28 active members.
In 1999 we had the good fortune to have an article in the Calgary Herald. Laura Shutiak was the journalist and both her Mom and her Aunt were members of Golfaround. At this time we had grown to about 140 and we were toying with the idea of introducing a mini beginner league into the mix. There were sixteen choices of golf courses and two evenings offered at this time. The article in the newspaper triggered another influx of people, mostly beginner golfers and we developed a Begniner Program that to this day is bar none. Our target market was the average middle class women, not the country club wives of yore. We wanted to keep our pricing affordable as we believed that everyone should be able to enjoy the game not just those who could afford a club membership.
At the end of the season in 1997 we were surprised with a BBQ, hosted by Donna Woodman at her home, it was a wonderful surprise and holds many great memories. The following year we enjoyed a day at Carstairs and launched an annual tournament at Sundre. many of you will remember staying at the B&B, Rustlers, across the street, I am sure we were four and five to a room but sooooooooooo much fun. We have always tried to augment the league and lessons with some fun stuff as you know and it is interesting to see that we have repeated some of the trips over the years, I guess they were too much fun. In 1999 we did our first bus trip and no it wasn’t a mystery, we went to the Radium Resort. We also had a fun day at Wintergreen and guess what, our very first Fernie get away was launched.
Looking back it is interesting to see some of the similarities between then and now: July 29 to Aug 1 the du Maurier Classic, was held at Priddis Greens and in 2016 it is there again but the name has been changed to the Canadian Pacific Open: Do you remember Putting for Dough at the Eagle Greens Golf Center now better know as the Golf Canada Center and in 1999 we did go and hit balls during the winter but at McCowans Golf Dome rather than the Eaglequest Golf Dome at Fox Hollow. We also had ShawNee Slopes on our league roster back then and the head golf Professional was Grant Cook who is now teaching at the National Golf Academy. In addition remember when we played at Carnmoney and it cost $25.00? We didn’t have MOB’s back then but we had our first member get a Hole in One at Elbow Springs and that was Lorie Faubert.