Brad Lawrence - 2023 PGA of Ontario Junior Leader of the Year
In 2009, Brad Lawrence decided to focus on one thing, giving back to youth.
He participated in a Thursday night program at Mississaugua Golf and Country Club for kids aged six to twelve. Before he knew it, the interest grew, and in 2012, he expanded the program to include the first-ever Every Little Snaggers program to introduce kids under the age of five to the game.
The following year, he helped establish the Weston Golf & Country Club Junior Golf Development Centre with Jon Blomme, which included summer camps and clinics.
"That was my first experience with a high-performance coach", says Lawrence. "It was well-structured with practice and competitive programs". An experience he didn't take for granted, and a path he continued to pursue.
Lawrence helped re-brand and revive the Hamilton Halton Junior Golf Tour and in February 2023, he was elected President of the Tour.
"That tour almost folded in 2020 and my goal was to bring it back to life", says Lawrence. "We re-branded the tour, created a more modern feel, and it helped me with my outreach in Hamilton to the Greater Hamilton area", he says. "It's the coolest thing I've done for the kids - helping them achieve their goals of scholarships".
Lawrence, Associate Golf Professional at Hamilton Golf and Country Club, currently leads the Junior programs at his club, chairs an external Golf Tour in Hamilton, and balances his everyday duties at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.
How does he do it all? He shared some tips that contribute to his success.
"My first tip would be to find a partner who’s as understanding as my wife is", says Lawrence, happily married to his wife, Nadia. "The second tip would be to learn to say 'no'. I love teaching and spending time at the club, but sometimes, you must say 'no' and spend time with your partner/family. It's about finding the right balance".
There's no questioning his dedication to his family, and his dedication to foster junior development in Canada. He has aspirations of further developing the Junior Program in Hamilton along with the Hamilton Halton Junior Tour, and strives to emulate a professional from the Country Club of Birmingham, Alabama - Eric Eshleman.
Eshleman has 220 kids in his Junior Club Championship. Lawrence says he hopes one day to create an event of that magnitude at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.
"He's the Director of Golf at one of the best clubs in Alabama", Lawrence says. "As a private club, I had never heard of anything that compares to what he's built for youth golfers. It has a real tournament feel and it's really successful, known for producing NCAA athletes".
Lawrence's motivation is simple: His passion for the game.
"I love this business, and I’m lucky to get to do what I do, which motivates me", says Lawrence. "I’m not the brightest star in the sky, so I don’t know if I’d be good at much else".
When asked about whether he has someone who inspires him, Lawrence responds "Yes, of course, Ted Lasso. He's a fictional character but I think no one does a better job at being a coach than he does". Lawrence states that he follows the principles Lasso portrayed in the show to help him inspire, motivate, mentor, and support students.
He also puts himself in the shoes of students. "If I want them to work on their game more, I will be right there with them", he says. "If I want them to start playing in tournaments, I'm teeing it up in events the same as they are, which is scary as heck when you haven't played competitive golf in 18 years!".
In his own words, "I doubt you will find many pros in Canada that are more involved and passionate about junior Golf".
Those who know him agree.
Andrew Russ, Associate Professional at London Hunt and Country Club, says that Lawrence was born to work with juniors.
"Getting juniors involved in golf can be very difficult", says Russ. "The stereotypes that golf isn't fun or exciting can play a huge role in why juniors wouldn't want to start playing the game. Brad uses this to his advantage and makes golf fun. He is constantly coming up with great ideas to make the game more enjoyable, such as playing Tic-Tac-Toe as well as making the game more inclusive".
"That's a fun one, the kids love it, we all love Tic-Tac-Toe", says Lawrence. "We putt and chip to a 9x9 grid, and it gets the kids engaged to work on their speed, contact, and most importantly - have some fun!".
Lawrence finds growing the game rewarding, and he has been rewarded in more ways than one. He was the recipient of the PGA of Ontario Junior Leader of the Year award in 2020, was named the 2019 PGA of Ontario Class "A" Assistant Professional of the Year, and has been recognized in the US Kids Top 50 kids coaches in 2019, 2021, and 2022.
This past season, he added the 2023 PGA of Ontario Junior Leader of the Year award to his collection of accolades.
"Winning this award means a lot", he says. "I am fortunate to have a great team around me and a terrific membership at Hamilton. This year, we worked extremely hard to produce the best junior program we've ever run, and to be recognized for that was pretty special".
If you are interested in connecting with Brad, he can be reached here .
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