Calgarian Navdeep Nagra said typically golf is only for the elite class back in her home country of India.
That’s why she was thrilled to have her eight-year-old daughter participate in a partnership between the Calgary Police Service (CPS) and the City of Calgary called Operation Tee-Time which brought South Asian youth to the golf course to learn the game. On Tuesday, they were hitting balls, with CPGA instructors, at the McCall Lake driving range in northeast Calgary.
It was free for youth between the ages of six and 18, the City of Calgary said.
“In India, this sport is for the elite. This sport is not only perceived, but it’s also actually played by the elite class. So, people who can actually afford it,” Nagra said.
“We came with the same mindset here as well when we came to Canada that ‘oh, this sport has always been out of a common man’s reach, a middle-class person’s reach, so, it isn’t for us or for our children.’”
The program, spearheaded by Const. Randy Randhawa of the CPS Diversity and Resource Team, was an opportunity to get city youth out to experience a new game.
“It’s a unique opportunity where kids can get out away from the screens and then away from other distractions as well,” Randhawa said.
“It’s another game that teaches kids how to focus on something as well which is really essential going forward for kids.”
Const. Randhawa said that the game teaches kids about patience, perseverance and understanding there are highs and lows in the game – good shot, bad shot. Randhawa is a golfer himself, playing regularly at McCall Lake.
“You’ve got to learn to basically not take that negative mindset, create it into something positive and look forward to your next shot as well,” he said.
Randhawa also said it’s a chance to intervene early and get youth directed towards positive activity, and away from things like potential gang influence.
Growing the game of golf in Calgary
John Faber, acting lead for the City of Calgary golf courses said that they were thrilled to partner with the Calgary police to bring this opportunity to youth.
“Part of our mission with the City of Calgary golf is to grow the game of golf and make sure that everybody’s aware, it’s affordable, it’s accessible, and it’s a game for everyone,” he said.
“As you can see by the youngsters here today, this is when we want to get them involved because golf is a game that you can play for your life.”
Faber said that honesty, integrity and competing against yourself are the hallmarks of golf.
“This is just about how can you make yourself better. I think there’s a lot of lessons from golf that can be transported right into everyday life.”
Patience is the one key thing eight-year-old Jaisveen Nagra has taken from her time in the program. Plus, focusing on a goal – especially when hitting balls.
“That built-up focus and patience is like, if you keep getting it wrong, it builds up your patience. When you get it right, your patience is worth it,” she said.
Jaisveen said she was having a lot of fun and would like to continue learning and playing golf.
“It’s a really hard game, but if you keep practicing it gets pretty easy,” she said.
Operation Tee-Time is a pilot program to start, but Const. Randhawa said he’d like to see it expand to all Calgary youth at a variety of City of Calgary courses.
The program, which runs through August, had 120 applicants for 36 spots.