'Give a child golf': Charity helps juniors tee off

Tiffany Chaisson firmly believes that every child should be given an opportunity to play golf, if they want to. Chaisson said she's determined to help as many junior golfers in P.E.I. and around the world do just that.

'If it’s not fun, get off the fairway'

Fairways currently helps support 7 golfers in P.E.I. (Tom Steepe)

Tiffany Chaisson firmly believes that every child should be given an opportunity to play golf if they want to.

The Sydney, Australia native said she's now determined to help as many junior golfers in P.E.I. and around the world do just that.

Chaisson, who moved to the Island three years ago, is an avid golfer herself having played almost 100 courses in 10 countries, over the past two years. 

Last year, while on a trip to Ireland, she heard about junior golfers in that country who loved the game, but couldn't afford to keep playing it.

'Pick up a club and get out and golf'

Junior golfers get in some practice swings before beginning their lessons at Avondale Golf Course this week. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

She and a friend she'd met through social media came up with the idea to set up Fairways, a not-for-profit organization that helps as many kids get out on the links as it can.

Fairways identifies kids who love golf, but whose families are in difficult financial situations, then it takes care of their membership, lessons, and range access for a year.

"I want golf to be inclusive, and I want any child regardless of their parents' financial background to be able to pick up a club and get out and golf, and if it's something they want to do, then I'm going to help them do it," explained Chaisson.

Come from different circumstances

Fairways co-founder Tiffany Chaisson offers encouragement to junior golfer Sam Shaw. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Fairways currently helps support 20 juniors in Canada, Nepal and India, 7 in P.E.I alone. 

Children are recommended by golf professionals at clubs across the province.

Membership and lesson packages can range between $200-$250 annually for each child.

As part of their fundraising efforts, Fairways recently launched a global event in which 8 courses around the world helped raise funds that saw golfers play as many holes as they could in one day on the longest day of the year.

Chaisson said different circumstances such as family bereavements, medical expenses and poverty, may have put children's families in financial trouble. 

While they may come from diverse backgrounds, they do have one thing in common — they absolutely love playing golf and need no encouragement to hit the links.

'If you're not having fun, then why are you here?'

Fairways hopes to raise money so that more junior golfers will get to play this summer. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"I just took to the game," Sam Shaw of Avondale said. "It was nice that I liked it, and it was a game that I could go out and relax and do."

"It's really fun and it gives me a challenge to do," added his brother Nate. "If you're not having fun, then why are you here?"

Lessons take place at Avondale Golf Course once a week with teaching professional Dave Bowlan.

And the juniors don't have to be the next golfing superstar to qualify. If they have a passion for the game, Fairways will help them.

"You've got to have fun with it. If you don't have fun, you're not going to keep playing it," said Connor Lea, General Manager at Avondale Golf Course. 

Fairways currently has a couple of ways it's raising funds.

People can sponsor $5, $10 or more a month online and it also recently launched an online auction called Awesome 4somes.

Green fees for groups of four, at 30 courses around the world are being auctioned off, starting at 50 per cent of their value.

Participating courses are in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Indonesia and the U.S., and all proceeds are going to Fairways.

MORE P.E.I. News I Small airports gain access to federal infrastructure funds

MORE P.E.I. News I Island artists chosen in exhibition destined for Venice