The West Shore Local Hero Awards are back! You can find this year’s special feature in the March 16 edition of the Goldstream Gazette or online under e-editions. Stay tuned for more on each of this year’s honourees, you will also be able to read their stories online at goldstreamgazette.com/tag/local-hero-awards.
Growing up in Prince Albert, Sask., Brad Simpson started playing golf at a very young age. He remembers having a golf club in hand from the age of four. The sport was very much a family affair, with both his parents and his sister sharing in and helping inspire his love of the game. Simpson’s summer memories of the Prairie town were of biking to the nearby golf course with his sister to play.
“I grew up on the back of my mom’s pull cart. There are pictures of me as a toddler hanging onto her pull cart as she was playing golf,” Simpson said.
That love of the sport has never left him. As the Junior Golf Leader at Highland Pacific Golf, his passion is getting youth into the sport and helping them excel. Simpson runs a variety of programs there, including junior nights, and spring and summer break courses. He’s been at Highland for four years, but he’s been working on golf courses in some fashion since 1999. He’s extended the family tradition to the next generation, too – all three of his daughters grew up golfing.
“[I’ve] just been a big believer in growing the game … and trying to keep something [going] that I grew up with a passion and love to do as a kid,” Simpson said.
Following that passion, he earned a management diploma at McEwan University, followed by a management degree at the University of Lethbridge. All the while he kept working as a golf professional, playing and teaching with a focus on working with youth.
For Simpson, mentoring youth is both a way to share the passion of the sport with the next generation and a way to encourage kids to grow into the best versions of themselves. He says the time-consuming nature of the sport can provide structure in a young person’s life, especially if they invest the time and effort required to take the sport to the university level.
“I think that’s needed in youth sometimes. Give them a little bit of direction, and something that they can help make goals out of, and get them carried on in a good path for wherever they choose to go,” Simpson said.
“I’d rather have kids interested in golf than hanging outside the 7-Eleven.”
On top of that, Simpson enjoys the pure satisfaction of coaching and knowing that you’re helping someone achieve their dreams.
“It’s awesome to watch interest turn into passion, and that passion turn into the drive to want to accelerate and get to a better level and golf and see where their life takes them from there,” Simpson said.
“When somebody learns how to hit a golf shot better, there’s an aha moment. There’s this something that only they feel. … It’s so much excitement.”
In keeping with the family tradition of golf Simpson has also started offering an adult junior program. It’s geared towards adults who have children in their life that play, to encourage them to play and grow their skills together.
“I think golf is missing the boat by not getting that involvement through the family,” Simpson said.
The junior clinics hosted by Highland Pacific Golf are open to youth with a wide range of skill levels, from absolute beginners to those who are looking to take their craft to the next level.
As for Simpson’s goals for the upcoming season, he’s looking forward to welcoming more than just club members back to Highland as pandemic restrictions ease. Another important goal for Simpson is to get more women and girls involved in the sport. There is female representation in golf, but Simpson says it still skews male.
“I don’t want anybody to feel like they’re left out. I’m just in general interested in the more that I can offer and expose more people, specifically youth, to this game. They’re the ones that are going to be turning into adults soon, and I want to keep something that I grew up loving, going,” Simpson said.
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