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Canadian golfers eye 2016 Olympics in Rio

   TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency, Toronto Sun, August 2011

Now, more than ever, Canadian golfers are being given the tools they need to succeed at the game's top level.

While some may see the lack of a Canadian star at the moment as a death knell for our country's golf development, those with a stake in it don't see it that way.

Gary Bernard, chief executive officer of the PGA of Canada, says that the programs are in place to foster the development of high performance golfers and the system is better than it has been in the past.

Bernard says the success of players such as Stephen Ames and Mike Weir over the past decade kept development of players out of the limelight to a certain extent.

"Possibly Weir and Ames took attention away from our young players but we didn't have anything close to what we have now as a nation as far as a high-performance program, Team Canada program, coaching programs or provincial team infrastructure that we have now," Bernard said. "Becoming part of Sport Canada/CAC in 2005 was huge for us. The contribution of Golf Canada and the partnership we enjoy with them is a strong indicator of the 'working together attitude' that has developed over the last 5-7 years within the Canadian golf industry on high performance."

Canadian Tour commissioner and CEO Rick Janes agrees that golf is solid on a grassroots level, but it's just not something people hear much about.

"I think that golf in Canada is definitely on the upswing in terms of player development," he said. "Apart from the recognition afforded Canadian players on the PGA TOUR, not unlike other sports, most people are not aware of those players coming up through the ranks. The same degree of exposure is simply not there."

Janes said the 2016 Olympics is a target among golf's administrators.

"We probably have the best crop of young developing professionals that we have ever had in this country," he said. "With golf coming to the Olympics in 2016, we have a responsibility as administrators of the sport, in my opinion, to ensure that none of them fall through the cracks for lack of support."

Bernard said Canada is well positioned because it is now doing what Europe has been doing in terms of developing its players including, he said, a long-term player development program, introduction of coaching programs, support from Sport Canada, strong commitment of Golf Canada with Team Canada and the use of sport scientists as a regular part of provincial and national programming.

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