Dozens of Indigenous kids learn to golf from the pros in Fort McMurray
Participants were taught driving, putting, bunker play and short game skills
Dozens of Indigenous kids in Fort McMurray learned to putt, drive and chip from professionals this week at a special golf camp.
Trent Shott, CEO of Kanatech Industrial, came up with the idea for a golf camp five years ago.
"We wanted to introduce the Aboriginal youth to the game of golf," said Shott. "I haven't seen enough … of these types of events."
The three-day camp was held at Miskanaw Golf Club.
Originally, 36 kids signed up but once the camp started, more siblings wanted to join, bringing the total to 46.
"I really think we're going to have three or four kids that are going to come out of here with a very good shot at going pro for golf," said Shott.
Chris McKenzie, Aaron Buckner and Jimmy Kirby, all from Fort McMurray golf clubs, were in charge of teaching the skills.
The professionals taught the kids how to play in different areas of the sport, including putting, short-game, bunker play and driving range.
Dave Tuccaro, president of the Tuccaro Group of Companies, was the first sponsor for the camp.
"After a long bout of COVID and people having to lock in place, it's nice to see that we can have our kids out having fun," said Tuccaro.
He said that with professional coaching, there may be some golf stars coming out of Wood Buffalo in the future.
"That's what we need to bring to our communities, and that's what this golf camp does."
Abigail Janvier, 10, was one of the participants. She said she's golfed once or twice before, but now she loves the sport.
"I used to never want to go," said Janvier.
"Now I know why my dad is absolutely obsessed with golf."
Janvier said she's learned a lot about golf and how to drive the ball, which is her favourite part.
"I used to never hit very far, but now I do," she said.
Cruz Fabian, 9, won the driving competition on Tuesday after hitting the ball 175 yards.
He said when he first showed up at camp, he was only hitting the ball about 75 yards.
"I was struggling until they taught me how to hit it good," said Fabian.
He said he'll be playing more golf in the future.
Karla Buffalo, CEO with the Athabasca Tribal Council, said it was an easy decision for the ATC to partner with the golf camp.
"I think that it's so important for us to bring new sports and new exposure to our kids in the region," said Buffalo.
The golf camp includes traditional hand games at the end of every day.
Buffalo said the ATC is looking to support cultural revitalization and "kids love it."
Shott said he's making the camp annual, and he's aiming to have more than 100 kids at next year's event.