Canadian PGA Centennial Leaves Guests with Fond Memories

(AYLMER, PQ) July 11, 2011 – Event in review:  

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The Canadian PGA was formed following the Canadian Open at Royal Ottawa Golf Club, and today, 100 years later, leaders from across the golf industry returned to celebrate the historic milestone.

More than 350 professionals, golf business leaders, and Canadian PGA partners took to the links on the second day of centennial celebrations, playing both Rivermead, as well as Royal Ottawa. Groups raved about Royal Ottawa, the historic course where 17 club professionals formed the Canadian PGA in July, 1911.

“More than 400 people are coming to the gala which is incredible, especially at the height of the Canadian golf season,” says Glenn Cundari, President of the Canadian PGA. “That shows the incredible commitment that people have to this organization. Many of the most influential people in the golf industry have come to join the celebrations, which is really a sign of the links we have to other organizations around the world.”

• Joe Steranka, the PGA of America’s Chief Executive, says his involvement at the centennial, which includes a speech at the gala, is indicative of the cooperation between PGAs all over the world.

“This is an example of the kinship of the PGAs,” he says. “This is an opportunity to celebrate golf professionals. It is the golf pro that helps us learn the game and get more enjoyment out of golf.”

Steranka’s organization represents more than 27,000 golf professionals, a number he says is very stable despite economic uncertainty in the U.S.

The PGA of America recently hired Boston Consulting Group to do a survey of golfers and those don’t play the game in an attempt to establish how golf should move forward. He said the survey found “latent demand” among 61 million people in the U.S., a number that indicates interest in the game is still strong though sometimes untapped.
However, Steranka added his organization intends to slightly reposition golf within the busy lifestyles of many Americans.

“You’ll see us promote the game for its health benefits and tie it to family experiences,” he says. “You’re going to see us develop the equivalent of ‘bunny slopes’ for golf to access people of all skills.”

• Numerous Canadian PGA partners were in attendance for golf and the gala, including presenting sponsor - Mercedes-Benz Canada, Acushnet, Callaway Golf, Fletcher Leisure Group, Golf Town, Movado Group, Cobra-Puma, RBC, Mr. Lube and Simmlands Insurance.

“The Canadian PGA and its membership helps grow the game and that’s very important to us,” says Scott Reid, Managing Director of Callaway in Canada. “At Callaway we feel very strongly about the pyramid of influence and club professionals are central to that.”

Reid says 30 percent of Callaway’s business in Canada is conducted through Canadian golf professionals. “And we need to do more,” he says.

JoAnne Caza, director of communications for Mercedes in Canada, says her organization was thrilled to be part of the festivities. A newer partner for the Canadian PGA, Caza says the organizations share common causes, including raising money to fight prostate cancer.

“We’re beautifully aligned,” she says. “This is the start of a long term relationship.”

A long term relationship is exactly what Simmlands Insurance has had with the Canadian PGA. For 44 years, Simmlands has supplied insurance to Canadian PGA professionals, starting with Pat Fletcher at Royal Montreal.

The organization supplies disability, life and liability insurance to Canadian PGA members.

“We love our relationship with the Canadian PGA, says John Simmonds, President of Simmlands. “Our relationship with the Canadian PGA is about helping professionals protect a great brand.”

• ClubLink is the largest employer of Canadian PGA professionals – with around 150 members working at the company’s clubs in Ontario and Quebec. Charles Lorimer, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for ClubLink, and a Canadian PGA member, says the event brought back memories of his early career in the golf business. He played Royal Ottawa today with Alan Ogilvie, the professional who first hired him in 1975 at Summerlea near Montreal.

“It is a big deal for me to be here, playing with Alan,” he says. “You stand on this course and you can’t help but go back in time in your mind.”

Ogilvie recalled teaching lessons after World War II for what today would be a bargain price.

“I taught in 1948 for $1.25 a lesson,” he joked before hitting a deft wedge into one of the devilish greens at Royal Ottawa.

• Rivermead, designed by two Canadian PGA founding members, George Cumming and Charles Murray, was elated to be involved with the centennial celebrations, says head professional Luke Saunders.

“This club runs a little under the radar,” he says. “But it has a very proactive board of directors who were more than happy to be involved with the celebrations.” |

Saunders, who has been head pro at Rivermead for four years, says the connection to the Canadian PGA anniversary also highlighted the historic nature of the club.

“For us it is an opportunity to showcase the golf course to golf pros and guests from across Canada,” he says. “We were thrilled to do it.”

Files from Robert Thompson - Editor of the Canadian PGA Centennial Magazine