Arts & Culture(Archives)
Miskanaw: More Than Just A Golf Course
Rob MacGregor leans back in his chair and peers out the window at his cozy Miskanaw Golf Club office just steps away from the 18-hole golf course he oversees on a daily basis as the CPGA Director of Golf and Grounds at MacDonald Island Park.
“If there’s two things on which we want to hang our hat as a golf course it’s our goal to be one of the best public and accessible golf experiences in the country while making sure we grow the game at the grassroots level in our community,” says MacGregor.
It appears as though MacGregor and his team at Miskanaw are doing just that, too. Four years after he took over the reins, Miskanaw Golf Course has only four holes to be re-developed, and the number of junior members has gone from 15 in 2009 to 87 at the end of the 2012 season.
“We expect to continue to connect with young people in the community and we want to see those numbers go through the roof,” explains MacGregor.
What MacGregor is alluding to is the popular Junior SNAG (Starting New At Golf) program, which Miskanaw Golf Club professionals like Denise Olver has taught for participating Grade 3-8 students across Fort McMurray beginning in 2011.
Since introducing SNAG, Olver and her fellow ‘Mi Team’ members have instructed more than 3,000 students for free, while also providing all of the fun, youth-oriented golf equipment needed to learn the game right in the comfort of a student’s own gym class.
The largest self-funded golf-in-schools program in the country, the SNAG program at Miskanaw has also been featured prominently as part of ATB Financial Mi Day, which sees an elementary school class receive complimentary access to facilities and instruction from recreation professionals at MacDonald Island Park every Thursday throughout the school year.
“SNAG is a lot of fun for young people,” says Olver, who is certified with the Canadian Golf Teachers Federation. “The modified golf equipment is colourful, lightweight and features special Velcro golf holes. It makes the game easy to learn and allows us to set the background to teach proper technique while being mindful of instilling values of character and golf etiquette.”
MacGregor wants everyone to know this is what you support when you become a member at Miskanaw or simply drop by for a round on a beautiful summer day at the confluence of the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers.
“We strive to make a difference and put the community first, whether it’s fundraising for community charities or our new Junior Days with Fort McMurray Firefighters and the RCMP. Sometimes that gets lost in a day at the golf course or a post-round dinner on the Fox Den Lounge patio, but when you golf at Miskanaw you make a decision to have fun while ensuring that others get to do the exact same thing. We think it’s a special place and we’re lucky to have the opportunity we have.”