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Coppinwood commits - Private club adopted 16 schools in 2010 with more on the way in 2011 

Published by Chris Fry on Wednesday, May. 11, 2011 10:38AM EDT

Kevin Thistle is a lot of things —charismatic, interesting, reverent and intelligent.

So when the influential general manager of one of Canada’s finest member courses, Coppinwood, began talking about getting his club more involved at the grassroots level of golf in Canada, his members listened.

For 15 years, Thistle was the driving force behind the success of Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ont., and many argue he changed the way high-end public golf courses were run in this country. Under Thistle’s reign, Angus Glen secured two Canadian Opens; a Canadian Women’s Open; a Skins Game; and generated millions in revenue dollars from not only public play, but also from corporate tournaments and various clubhouse functions.

But in the spring of 2009, Thistle departed Angus Glen, taking on the role of general manager at Coppinwood in Uxbridge, Ont.

In less than two years at Coppinwood, Thistle’s influence has markedly enhanced an already spectacular golf course. Furthermore, he’s also kept a healthy membership base engaged and enlisted their support in giving back to the Canadian golf community.

One of the Coppinwood’s initiatives to grow the game is The Invitational, a tournament, now entering its fifth tour year, which sees some of the country’s top professional and amateurs competing for the Dick Grimm Cup. Money raised from the first few tournaments was donated to Golf Canada’s Team Canada Club. Last year, the club raised $3,500 grassroots initiative — the National Golf in Schools program.

Launched in May 2009, the National Golf in Schools program— with curriculum developed by Physical and Health Education Canada, in partnership with Golf Canada and the Canadian PGA— is now in more than 1,100 elementary schools across Canada.

Nearly one quarter of all National Golf in Schools programs have been implemented via adoptions—Coppinwood alone adopted 16 schools in the club’s immediate area.

This year, the National Golf in Schools program will once again be the beneficiary of The Invitational at Coppinwood.

Coppinwood’s decision to donate to the National Golf in Schools program was reached a few years ago during a men’s committee meeting after Thistle and the members decided it made the most sense to give back to the game at a grassroots level.

“We’ve got to give back,” he says. “We’ve all in some way been blessed by golf — either by a great golf round or by being able to play at a great golf course.”

Thistle sees as one of the major benefits of the program, that kids, no matter their knowledge of sports, are introduced to the game at a young age — a much younger age then when he first picked up a club.

“When I was young in school there was nothing,” he says. “I didn’t start golfing until later in high school and it got me thinking, ‘wow, with this program you will get some more kids hooked young.’”

It’s a simple equation in Thistle’s mind — more kids being introduced to golf at younger ages can only benefit the overall health of the game for years to come.

“We get these kids involved and it’s a game you can play for a lifetime. I think we owe it to the kids,” he says.
The cost of contributing to the National Golf in Schools Adopt-a-School program is $475 per school. A tax receipt is issued (if requested) upon payment.

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