Money needed to develop local talent
If Rob McMillan is ever able to reach his ultimate goal of playing on the PGA Tour, he intends to give something back to the Manitoba golf community.
Thanks to the venture introduced at the 2006 Golf Expo at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, he should get his chance.
Organizers of the Expo announced the creation of the Manitoba Golfers Fund, a program which will allow local corporations and individuals to throw financial support behind aspiring golfers.
“What I would love to see is, if we can have enough successful players that have used this fund, then it will be time for them to give back to the fund too,” said McMillan, a 30-year-old Winnipegger and veteran of the Canadian Tour.
“That would be the ultimate. If I get to that point, I want to make sure that future generations have the same opportunity.”
George Sigurdson of the Sigurdson Financial Group, a longtime supporter of Manitoba golf, established the fund and donated the first $1,000. The goal for the first year is to raise $100,000 through private donations of any amount and a couple of auctions run through the Golf Expo.
A board of directors will be established to review applications for funding from young golfers, most likely players who are trying to establish themselves in the professional ranks.
“I’ve been one of the rare exceptions where I’ve had such good support,” said McMillan.
“Even I’ve had years where I haven’t had as much support as I needed. In Manitoba there are so many guys that have the talent but we unfortunately don’t have the resources for them to go ahead and chase their dreams.”
McMillan said there have always been a few people who have been loyal contributors to Manitoba golf, and it’s those same people who are likely to have the biggest impact on the fund.
“We want to take what they’ve done, put it in one direction and build around it,” said McMillan, who is joined in the professional ranks by Selkirk’s Glen Hnatiuk (Nationwide Tour) and Winnipeg’s Adam Speirs (Canadian Tour).
“Obviously, the financial part of it is big, but the second part of it, which is just as important, is for these players to have a group of people around them that they can go to, to get a push in the right direction. That’s crucial for young players.”
The big issue faced by golfers is expenses. They must travel around North America, paying for their own meals, hotels and entry fees all the way. Without sponsorship, they would get nowhere.
“If you are a hockey player and you are talented enough, usually you get picked up by a team and they pick up your costs and your training,” said McMillan.
“In golf, you are on your own. It’s very difficult. When you are starting out, you really aren’t playing for enough money that you can make a half-decent living.
“People out there will hear that the fund is giving out $100,000 and think that’s a ton of money, but really that’s barely enough for two guys to play for a year.
“We’re talking about driving all over the place and staying in the Super 8. We’re not talking about a lavish lifestyle.”