Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New fund to boost young golfers

Should help up-and-coming talent cope with costs of participation

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Aspiring professional golfers have skills and abilities galore on the course.

Figuring out the financial minefield that is often the pursuit of their careers, well that's another thing altogether.

It's the perfect dilemma for one of Winnipeg's biggest hearts and determined optimists, George Sigurdson, who has helped establish the Elite Professional Golf Fund of Manitoba Inc.


The fund's purpose is to assist Manitoba's up-and-coming professionals with some of their expenses.

"Everybody's got a little different story," Sigurdson said this week. "At the start, there are often lots of supporters. After a couple of years go by, it wanes.

"I've been thinking about this for three or four years -- let's set up a non-profit fund to help some of these kids cover their basic expenses like entry fees or some travel so that when they get to a tournament, they can at least not start out feeling like they're in the hole."

What the fund is not is a full-blown sponsorship proposition, nor is it a charitable organization that can hand out tax receipts.

It is, however, a legitimate registered company with a board made up of chartered accountant Ken Houssin of Deloitte Touche, Gord Kostick, owner of River Park Flooring, Nike Canada's Rob McMillan, a former tour player, and Sigurdson, president of Sigurdson Financial.

With the generous assistance of lawyer Stuart Blake, the fund is established and already considering applications to help players.

"Our goal is to have a fund that's bigger than any one of the golfers," Sigurdson said. "We want to support young players from Manitoba trying out for one of the tours, Canadian, Nationwide or wherever.

"These young players will send us an application for funds -- entry fees, some travel, what have you -- and the board will review each request."

Sigurdson said that funds granted will be considered something of an advance, that the players would simply agree to send 20 per cent of their winnings back to the fund in the future, only up to the amount they received in the first place.

With qualifying school entry fees on the exorbitant side -- more than $2,200 to try the Canadian Tour, more than $5,000 for the PGA Tour school -- it seems like a worthy venture for some assistance.

"I think many Manitoba golfers would like to be part of such a journey," Sigurdson said. "I've already had two or three companies make a contribution, like bang, because I think everybody has a soft spot in their heart for these young players trying to make it.

"This could make a difference for these players, who don't want to feel like they're always begging for some help.

"My lofty goal here is to try to find 1,000 golfers here who will contribute $100 so we can get this fund to $100,000."

For more information, or to leave a message for Sigurdson, contact Penny Johanson at 953-1760.

"ö "ö "ö

Two rescheduled events in Mexico are on the docket later this month and that will bring the Canadian Tour's 2009 schedule to a close.

On the money list, Players Cup champ Graham DeLaet is comfortably first at $94,579 and the Manitoba contingent is fairly safe when it comes to 2010 cards.

Dauphin's Ryan Horn is No. 28 at $19,687, Winnipeg's Matt Johnston is No. 50 at $12,536 and Winnipeg's Adam Speirs, though No. 100, has a winner's exemption that's still in effect.

The top 80 players retain cards for next year, meaning only Vermillion Bay's Jordan Krantz, the two-time former Manitoba Amateur champ, needs to move forward from No. 113 at $4,048.

"ö "ö "ö

Golf Channel has come up with what sounds like another winner.

Its second season of the Haney Project will have renowned teacher Hank Haney trying to fix the game of comedian Ray Romano.

Given first student Charles Barkley's appalling golf instincts, Haney ought to be able to help Romano in his sleep, whether or not Romano's claimed handicap of 13 is legitimate.

Having had the non-pleasure of once being on a golf course behind Romano, we're praying that some of Haney's instruction will make Romano a faster player. Eighteen holes of golf should not take longer than a full season of Everybody Loves Raymond reruns.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 18, 2009 C6

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