The culture of education and support is pervasive at the Victoria Golf Club says Connor Taiji.
“Scott Kolb (GM) and Lindsay Bernakevitch (head professional) and all the staff here, really push us to improve and support us,” Taiji said. “There’s a really good culture here of learning and moving forward. They don’t like us to stay stagnant.”
It’s among the reasons the associate professional at Victoria Golf Club earned the 2017 PGA of BC Jim Gibson Scholarship.
The Jim Gibson Scholarship is named in honour of the late Jim Gibson, a long-time supporter of the PGA of BC who valued education in his role as a Golf Professional, and was extremely well versed in the game. The recipient of this scholarship exemplifies volunteerism and demonstrates a passion for furthering their education for their community’s benefit.
“It’s really nice to be recognized by your peers,” Taiji said, adding a fair amount of the education and certification Taiji and his peers receive comes through the PGA of BC.. “The PGA has been really big on helping us really improve our skills.”
The reason behind the win, is that environment that fosters education. It allowed Taiji to work full time while pursuing his own education, both in golf operations and instruction and getting his business degree. He plans to pursue an MBA. The educational philosophy extends to club members who share their individual expertise with staff.
“They’re all willing to sit you down and mentor you, spend time with you,” Taiji said.
Taiji also plays a key role administering the Evans Caddie Scholarship program at VGC, which involves training youth caddies from the community and providing them an opportunity to access post-secondary funding.
“I’ve got to see five of our caddies go on and get their education paid for,” he said. “It’s really inspiring to see how that program has changed their lives.”
Former VGC staff member Winston Michell, now head professional at Hirsch Creek Golf & Winter Club, earned the 2017 PGA of BC Community Leadership Bursary
After arriving at the Kitimat facility this spring, Michell helped the Hirsch Creek Ladies Club administer a program making golf more accessible for local preteen girls. The program covered the costs of club membership and fees for six youth applicants, while also providing equipment, apparel, instruction and other supports to introduce them to the sport. Community Leadership Bursary funding will help expand this initiative in 2018 through a mirroring program available to junior boys.