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Growing golf at home
Tom Vold isn’t just on a mission to grow the game of golf in the East Kootenays. He has his sights set on ensuring the game stays strong right across the globe.
“I’m looking at the game of golf in 25 years,” said the 54-year-old director of golf at Kimberley Golf Club. “If I can get 15 or 20 or 30 kids to play golf for the rest of their life…and we all do that as a golf community, then what we’ve done is made our game stronger.”
A native of Kimberley, Vold’s pursuit of the game has been one of civic nature for longer than he can remember. The man Vold worked under during his first stint at the Kimberley Golf Club inspired a great deal of his approach.
From 1983 through 1987, Vold was a student of the game under former head professional Bill Quilley before continuing his journey south of the Canadian border.
Together, Quilley and Vold ran a junior golf program that boasted hundreds of pupils at Kimberley Golf Club in the 1980s.
Vold eventually left Kimberley Golf Club and went on to earn his Class A professional designation with Canadian Professional Golfers’ Association (CPGA) in 1989 and later earned the same classification as a member of the PGA of America in 1996.
Tack on two titles as PGA Professional of the Year (Las Vegas chapter) and you have the making of a pretty respectable career in golf for someone who didn’t pick up the sticks until he was 20 years old.
In 2011, Vold returned to the Kimberley Golf Club, where his career first teed off.
Fast-forward to 2014 and the junior golf program at Kimberley Golf Club.
While registration numbers might be down from the days Kimberley was a bustling, mine-driven town in the 1980s, Vold feels the program has come a long way to where it currently stands.
In the past two years, Vold and the Kimberley Golf Club have helped to produce quality Canadian golf talent. Former junior players Jared duToit (University of Idaho, 2013) and Julia Dereniwsky (Texas A&M Corpus Christi, September 2014) have both headed below the 49th parallel on NCAA golf scholarships.
“Anytime you can create a buzz, anytime [the game] is in front of people, that is what’s important,” Vold said.
While Vold works one-on-one with students such as duToit and Dereniwsky, he also runs junior golf camps, which have pulled in 16 to 20 students per camp this season. Though it might be easy to jump to the conclusion that lower numbers equal a negative trend for a program such as this, Vold believes in a close student-to-instructor ratio, allowing for more intimate coaching.
With some financial assistance from Telus, Kimberley Golf Club was able to purchase junior equipment in order to provide golfing opportunities to junior-aged players at an accessible cost. A junior-aged golfer (17 years of age and under) can play nine holes of golf at Kimberley Golf Club for a mere $10.
Don’t have clubs? Don’t worry. Junior club rentals are free.
By establishing and solidifying a successful junior golf program — exemplified by the likes of duToit and Dereniwsky — and creating affordable access to the game for the newest generation of linksters, Vold is doing his best to ensure golf doesn’t go the way of the dinosaur.
“I’m not concerned about the future of golf,” Vold said, “I have trepidation about it because there seems to be gaps [in participation].
“We’re in a very unique, favourable, enviable position in the fact we can [provide opportunities for new golfers]. Being a semi-private facility really affords us the opportunity to be more civic-minded, to be more community based, to create things that are more viable to not only the growth of the game now, but in the future.”
Vold hopes to host a Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour event to further bolster Kimberley Golf Club’s reputation as a course striving to grow the game of golf, not just in the East Kootenays, but across the country and beyond.