By Adam Eisenbarth
Several junior golfers took tips from Down Under on July 6 as three Australian pro golfers stopped by the Ponoka Community Golf Club for ATB Financial Golf Day in Alberta.
Boys and girls aged six to 15 years received a Taylor Made hat, a hot dog and pop but most importantly, some advice from the top notch golfers. Another clinic was held earlier in the afternoon for adult golfers.
This was the second time the event has been held but was the first year Ponoka hosted a clinic.
Event director Tim Garbutt says the event is a great way to bring in new golfers.
“The purpose of the event is to promote junior golf. It’s an opportunity for first time golfers to go out and hit some balls and for the older kids they get to meet a pro golfer and see what life is like on the tour.”
A total of 11 courses throughout Alberta hosted clinics featuring pros from the Canadian Golf Tour.
Garbutt says Ponoka was fortunate to host the Aussie trio.
“They’re fantastic golfers and a lot of fun to watch.”
Andy Johnson Luke Hickmott and Justin Smith were the pros on hand after wrapping up at a tournament in Edmonton on Sunday. Their next stop is in Saskatoon but these three, along with 30 other golfers, took the time to make a stop. Johnson says it’s a fun day to donate some time and tips.
“I did this last year in Edson and had a great time, it’s a great day. Generally Monday is a travel day for us so (to stop by) is not a problem at all. We love it.”
The Aussies will tour Canada until September and then head back to Australia where summer will just be beginning.
“I haven’t seen winter in five years, so it’s pretty cool,” says Johnson.
Johnson has been on the Canadian tour for three years and gets to travel around the world to golf. He says the quality of courses in Canada is right up there with other countries.
“Obviously the rainfall is awesome and the courses are very green and lush, so it’s very enjoyable to play.”
The continuation of the program depends on the ability of golfers to work a time slot out as they tour.
“I’d say we’ll probably see it again. We’ll have to see how everything goes though and hopefully we can work it out,” says Garbutt.
Watching the youngsters work at their game reminds Johnson of his younger days in the game. He started at age four and has come a long way.
“I remember being a kid myself doing this sort of thing, so to give back is a pretty cool deal.”