Junior golfers who play out of the Gull Lake Golf Course are a spoiled bunch but in a very good way.
Each one of them gets a chance to benefit from the Junior Golfer Endowment Foundation and once each year they’re treated to getting up close with some professionals golfers from around North America.
The annual Gull Lake Golf Course Pro Am has been a success story in each of the past eight years, raising cash for junior golfers to access for post-secondary education.
In fact, the Foundation has already given back more than $50,000 to junior golfers from Gull Lake and with the strength of the program, more is to follow.
The credit for how well this event comes off is shared by the organizers, the members of Gull Lake and the professional golfers who keep showing up each year to share their knowledge of the game with the kids.
This year eleven pros are making the trip to the tricky little par three course, including American golfer Sandra Palmer who brings with her an impressive resume, notching 21 wins on the LPGA tour including a win at the U.S Open.
“For the young kids in our program, to see a lady of her stature and what she’s done will be pretty special,” said Eamon McCann, Gulls Lake’s operator.
“To think she is a Hall of Famer, was a leading money winner. She was one of the best players on tour for 30 years.”
She joins 10 other pros who each bring a story and plenty of knowledge about the game of golf.
“It’s pretty unique that our little golf course has brought forward this opportunity for our children to benefit from these players coming in here for their education.”
Former Lacombe resident Stuart Hendley was the instigator of this event as well as being the connection to other golfers around the world who drop what they’re doing and head to Gull Lake.
“Sam Randolph (senior tour player) is playing here on Friday and Saturday and then flying out to play in the Senior British Open,” said McCann.
The entire weekend is built around the junior golfers at Gull Lake with the Foundation reaping the benefits from the money raised by the adult/child tournament Friday afternoon, a live auction that night followed by a nine-hole pro-am event Saturday afternoon.
McCann says the event is really a family affair from start to finish and everyone contributes in some way, even going as far as boarding some of the professional golfers in their homes during the weekend.
“Perry Parker (from California) is inviting his mom, his wife and his two daughters to come up for the event,” said McCann, underlining how much enjoyment these players get out of making this an event they really enjoy attending.
McCann also made a point of mentioning the involvement by Wolf Creek Golf Resort and professional Laura Witvoet in growing the junior program at Gull Lake with more than 90 young players hitting the links through the summer.
“She has been very instrumental in making this program work and Wolf Creek Golf Resort has been great in letting us promote her as our teacher.”
The entire package can be described as sort of the perfect storm which benefits the professionals who come back each year, the golf course itself and most importantly, the juniors are the big winners here.
But it doesn’t stop there for these future stars of the game in Alberta.
“Any junior that has ever played in our junior program can always apply back for the post secondary education junior fund,” said McCann.
In this day and age when the talk is about growing the game of golf, Gull Lake seems to have a bountiful garden which is reaping a great harvest each year.