Featured Professional: Paul Schatz
Dedication to Growing Golf in Saskatchewan, Paul Schatz is Awarded 2019 PGA of Canada “Jack McLaughlin Junior Leader of the Year”
The dedicated PGA of Canada Professionals in the province of Saskatchewan are enjoying quite a run. 2019 marked the 4th consecutive year that a Professional from the Saskatchewan Zone has earned a PGA of Canada National Award.
And amongst the 3,600+ PGA of Canada Professionals across Canada, it’s very evident what Saskatchewan Professionals are becoming well known for. Junior Golf Development.
Paul Schatz, PGA of Saskatchewan Professional at the Tor Hill Golf Club in Regina, capped off a busy summer of promoting Junior Golf by first off, winning the PGA of Saskatchewan Junior Leader of the Year award, and then taking home the ultimate honor, the national PGA of Canada Jack McLaughlin Junior Leader of the Year award. Each year, a national selection committee evaluates application submissions from zone award winners and recognizes winners in each of the categories.
Despite being one of the smaller zones as far as the overall number of Professionals, the PGA of Saskatchewan Professionals are having an incredible run in being recognized as leaders in the game of golf, including national awards being presented to the following Professionals;
2016 – Amanda Minchin – PGA of Canada Junior Leader of the Year
2017 – Jason Schneider – PGA of Canada Professional Development Award
2018 – Jeff Chambers – PGA of Canada Coach of the Year
2019 – Paul Schatz – PGA of Canada Junior Leader of the Year
We sat down with Paul Schatz following his award recognition and discussed his dedication to growing golf in Saskatchewan.
SaskGolfer: Congratulations on your PGA of Canada National Award for the 2019 “Jack McLaughlin Junior Leader of the Year”. What are a couple of your key Junior Golf initiatives that helped you win this prestigious award?
Paul: Thanks very much. During the course of the year as President of Regina Junior Golf Club Inc. I undertook the following initiatives; Establish a working relationship with the Regina Public School Board. We hosted 5 Family Golf Nights at different schools with a total of 176 children and parents participating. At the Family Nights the participants learnt the fundamentals of golf putting, chipping, pitching and full swing. Tor Hill Golf Course hosted a field trip for a Dr. A.E. Perry Grade 4/5 class, the program was conducted 4 different PGA of Canada Professionals and 10 different volunteers. The program saw 18 participants register for our Junior Learn to Golf Program.
I started a Junior Learn to Golf Program at all City of Regina Golf Facilities, where we hosted Junior Learn to Golf Lessons at the Murray Golf Course, Tor Hill Golf Course, Joanne Goulet Golf Course and the Lake View Par 3. A total of 94 kids participated in the programs and 12 participants continued into our Junior Golf League. I also started a Junior League at the Joanne Goulet Golf Course. The league would consist of two objectives (1) a meal to promote the social aspect of the game, (2) activities that promote playing the game of golf on the course. We had 37 unique participants and an average 24 participants each night. One key initiative we undertook was partnering with Carol Michel of the Gabriel Dumont Institute at the University of Regina to teach teachers how they can incorporate golf into their gym classes.
SaskGolfer: Tell us about the Regina Junior Golf program you started.
Paul: Regina Junior Golf Club Inc. is a non-profit business that was created to help grow the game of golf in Regina. As a non-profit we can seek alternative avenues to help with funding our programming such as lotteries, raffles, and corporate sponsorship. As a business with the purpose of growing the game, we do limit ourselves to one golf course. With that in mind we are actively looking to include other PGA of Canada Professionals in our programs.
SaskGolfer: Saskatchewan has had some very dedicated PGA of Saskatchewan Professionals over the years, especially when it comes to teaching and coaching. What made you decide to pursue Junior Golf Development and spending most of your time teaching juniors?
Paul: I think I got my passion for developing grassroots junior sports programs from my parents. In 1993, they took over the then 4,5,6 Fun Hockey Program (program designed to introduce 4,5 and 6 year olds to hockey in a fun environment) in Regina. When they took over, there were 6 teams consisting of 12-15 players per team. Fast forward 27 years and there are 32 teams consisting of the same 12-15 players per team.
I started teaching golf in 2011 after I became a member of the PGA and took over fellow PGA of Canada member Josh Oberik’s Learn to Golf Program at the Lakeview Par 3. As a young adult I was more focused on making ends meet than ensuring the success of my program. Looking back on it was a definite learning experience. In 2015 when I became Long Creek’s Head Professional is when my true passion for junior golf developed. When I saw a small town with an amazing golf course only have two junior members, I made it a goal of mine to increase junior participation. Over the course of four years I was able to increase the membership to 25 junior members and had well over 50 participants in my junior league night coming from all parts of southern Saskatchewan.
When you see anyone, but especially a child, succeed at something they were working hard at and the sheer joy in their face, there is nothing more satisfying for a teacher. The retirement of good friend and mentor of mine Scott Knapp allowed me to return to my roots in Regina with Western Golf Management. Seeing a huge gap in junior programs over the past year and into the future, it is my goal to see the programs of Regina Junior Golf Club Inc. grow as much as my parents did with their Fun Hockey Program.
SaskGolfer: How has implementing the SNAG Golf equipment in your golf programs helped in growing the game, specifically indoors at the elementary schools?
Paul: SNAG Golf Equipment is a huge part in efforts to help grow the game. I have found it equally valuable both indoors and outdoors to help engage juniors to golf. The benefits of using the equipment indoors is that we can engage with the juniors prior to the season. This allows the juniors to get excited for our spring and summer programs. SNAG has excellent teaching aids from bullseye targets on the golf clubs, colourful dots on the grips to promote proper grip, a snap ribbon to promote swing lag to mention a few.
SaskGolfer: What’s in store for Regina Junior Golf in 2020?
Paul: Going forward into the 2020 season, we are looking at expanding our programs with the hopes of reaching capacity and looking at starting some new initiatives; Expanding our relationships with Regina Public Schools with the hopes of more family nights and more field trips. Reaching the capacity of the Learn to Golf Program which is 240 participants. Reaching the capacity of the Junior League which is 54 participants. We are also looking at starting clinics during the months of July and August. We are looking at hosting a parent/child golf tournament. We are hosting a Maple Leaf Junior Tour (MJT) event which attracts families across the province. The City of Regina has not hosted an MJT in many years.
SaskGolfer: What are your top 3 golf courses to play in Saskatchewan?
Paul: It’s very hard to limit it to three golf courses as we have so many good ones in the province and varying layouts as the landscape changes drastically from north to south.
Regina Area – The Murray Golf Course. I may be biased having played there since I was 9 years old and working there for 12 years, but it is a great golf course. Great layout with 18 distinctly different golf holes that test every aspect of your game. The golf course is right out in front of you, no hidden tricks, all you have to do is hit good golf shots. Great golf shots are rewarded while bad golf shots are punished. The large, subtle greens still play tricks on me after 20 years.
Saskatoon Area – Riverside Golf & Country Club. The province’s #1 private golf course does not disappoint every time I get the privilege to play there. The scenery from the clubhouse is second to none overlooking the South Saskatchewan River. When you get on to the golf course the playing conditions are always pristine.
North Saskatchewan – This is a toss-up between Cooke Municipal in Prince Albert and Evergreen in Nipawin. I would give the edge slightly to Evergreen as you feel a little more secluded in the environment. The flora and fauna at Evergreen cannot be found in Southern Saskatchewan and makes you feel at peace when you are on the course. The course itself is a gem that is cut through the trees that tests your entire game.
South Saskatchewan – Kenosee. A great golf course that uses the beautiful landscape to its advantage. Always a test to play with a bunch of fun golf holes.
SaskGolfer: Thanks for the great interview Paul, congratulations once again on your PGA of Canada award and all the best with your Junior Golf initiatives moving forward.
Families looking for Lesson Programs within their area can visit the PGA of Canada website and click on the “Sport Development” tab. You can then perform a search to find the ideal Golf Program, including the following; ~ Get Golf Ready ~ Junior Programs ~ Future Links driven by Acura ~ Ladies Lessons ~ Adult Lessons www.pgaofcanada.com
Written by Scott Allan / SaskGolfer