MJT Tour Growing Golf in Saskatchewan
Junior Golf growth throughout the province of Saskatchewan is in great hands, due in large part to the popular Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour (MJT).
What’s making the MJT such a success? Well, there’s many reasons, but one main factor is the ongoing dedication of MJT Saskatchewan Tournament Director Jeff Chambers and his wife Carrie. Another leading factor can be summed up in one simple word…fun!
Talk to any one of the hundreds of Junior Golfers who participate each summer in the Saskatchewan MJT events and you’ll hear the same word over and over. It may be in different contexts coming from the golfers, like “it’s fun”, “for fun”, “we all have fun”, “the format is fun” or “I had fun”, but the underlying theme is the same.
I attended the final round of the MJT PGA of Canada – Saskatchewan Zone Junior Championship presented by Ilta GRain at Dakota Dunes Golf Links and here are my Top 5 observations on why the MJT is so popular;
Fun & Friendships – Junior Golf needs to be fun in order for golfers to enjoy, and continue to play, the game of golf. Jeff Chambers knows this, the parents know this, sponsors know this and the entire MJT team throughout Canada knows this…..everyone just mentioned does a fantastic job of ensuring the golfers have fun. The MJT team members are visible all day, and available to the golfers for any matter. Not only are they available, they are always smiling and supportive. Inside the clubhouse after the event, I overheard a couple of Juniors challenging each other to one more piece of pizza, provided by Presenting Sponsor Boston Pizza. It wasn’t going to affect the pizza supply as the combined weight of the 2 golfers was 120 pounds at best! Golf, Pizza and Prizes all adds up to an ideal day of golf for Junior Golfers. The friendships that the Junior Golfers form while playing Junior Golf events are some of the longest lasting friendships they will have in their lifetime.
Overall Organization – Driving up to Dakota Dunes, golfers and parents were greeted by a tidy row of banner flags, promoting the MJT and their many sponsors and supporters. All the fine details you would see at any top Amateur golf event are on display at the MJT events as well; registration tent with tee gifts, starters, official time clocks on the putting green, more sponsor signage by the first tee and practice green, rules officials, live scoring and much more. It was evident that Jeff and Carrie have dozens of MJT events under their belts as Tournament Directors, with the prize presentation flowing smoothly, giving parents plenty of time to hit the highway back to their hometowns, with their happy Junior Golfers, awards and draw prizes in tow.
Value – Parents travel with their Junior Golfers all throughout Saskatchewan, and over the course of a summer, the overall costs to play the MJT events (or any Junior Golf event for that matter) can be quite high. To justify the travel costs, the MJT offers up an amazing prize and draw table. Every golfer has an equal opportunity at many of the top prizes through draws. Sure, trophies are given out, and highly coveted, but the best prizes are through the random draws. When you compare the entry fee with the overall value the golfers receive in return, it’s one of the best values in golf a parent can find. Events are hosted at many of Saskatchewan’s top golf courses, preparing Junior Golfers for competitive golf on top courses. Sponsors play a significant role in growing the MJT, with multiple tee gifts presented to the participants at every MJT event. It’s great to see popular local golf company PLYR Athletics well represented on the prize table and highly acknowledged as a Sponsor.
Learning – Throughout the Dakota Dunes event, I observed countless acts of etiquette that prepare the Junior Golfers for developing in golf and life in general. Shirts neatly tucked in, hats on facing forwards, standing out of other player’s lines, saying “thanks” to the restaurant staff and more. One of the most refreshing moments was at the final prize presentation when Jeff asked one of the Junior Golfers to come up and say a few words on behalf of the players. The golfer proudly stood up in front of about 100 golfers and family members and confidently thanked all involved in the event for the incredible day. All the Junior Golfers respectfully listened to the speech, some no doubt listening with extra attention as they may be up there soon enough representing the players. Nice touch by Jeff Chambers!
Competition and Experience – Josh Nagy and Autumn Neisner, two of Saskatchewan’s top Junior Golfers, ended up winning their respective divisions at Dakota Dunes on this day, adding to their recent success on the links. The experiences, not to mention the confidence gained, at the MJT events is priceless. Junior Golfers need to test themselves under competition in order to grow and continue to excel. Josh Nagy has played on the MJT for a number years and recently signed on to attend University in the United States on a Golf Scholarship, allowing him to pursue his passion while getting a full education. There are countless golfers in Saskatchewan that have used the MJT as a successful path to pursuing their dream of playing golf at the University and College level. Parents need to remember that there are plenty of Canadian Universities and Colleges that have Golf Programs as well, allowing student athletes to stay in Canada and get an education. As a Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) alum, I am proud to have received my College Diploma in Business right here in Canada, while competing on the SAIT golf team. Junior Golfers have countless options and need to consult with their parents and local PGA of Canada – Saskatchewan Zone Professional on the many opportunities available when it comes to continuing their education and golf.
Congratulations to the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour team on continuing to grow the game of golf here in Saskatchewan. On behalf of the entire golfing and business community in Saskatchewan, we thank you for all you do.
By Scott Allan / SaskGolfer