Golf Gallant’s Gift That Keeps On Giving

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Reed On The Greens March 30, 2019

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioGolf.com

Many people who have a passion for the game of golf share a similar story in that golf saved their life. PGA of Canada professional Brian Gallant of London shares that story. And today, he passes that passion onto golfers of all ages so that they, too, can learn life’s lessons while enjoying golf their entire lives.

Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum presents Brian Gallant with the Future Links Facility of the Year Award. Photo: Golf Canada.

Gallant, 41, who operates Performance Golf London at his Oxford Street West indoor centre, and is head coach of the London Junior Golf Development Centre (LJGDC), is hands down one of the most involved golf coaches in Canada. His latest accolade comes with Golf Canada’s 2018 Future Links Facility of the Year Award, given to Gallant and his junior golf partner FireRock Golf Club in Komoka.

Gallant has operated the LJGDC at FireRock since 2009, growing from 29 junior golfers to more than 400 in 2018. He captured Golf Canada’s award by beating more than 600 golf facilities and 700 instructors who also deliver Future Links programming.

Future Links – Canada’s national junior golf program – is designed to forge a link to Canadian youth and golf to ensure the future of the game. Since its inception in 1996, 1.6 million Canadian youth have taken part in Future Links.

An Aylmer native, Gallant didn’t play junior golf. He spent his 18th birthday at Children’s Hospital where four hours of tests were conducted in order to find the source of his frequent blackouts. There was no discovery, but Gallant would soon discover his passion in life.

“That day I decided to go to Bob Martin’s Golf shop on William Street, picked up a set of irons and a bag, then went to Belmont Golf Club, bought a driver, putter and membership and started my journey in this game,” Gallant said.

After graduating with a B.Sc. degree in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo, with studies in Neurobehavioral Assessment and Pre-Health Options, Gallant set out to become a registered massage therapist. But he had taken a job in the pro shop at Greystone Golf Club in Milton when a friend helped change his career path.

Brian Gallant (far right) with Golf Ontario’s 2011 Recreational/Participation Coach of the Year Award. Photo: Golf Ontario.

“My friend said, ‘Brian, when you talk about massage therapy it’s one thing. But when you talk about golf you light up like a Christmas tree.’ Literally the next day I withdrew my application from massage therapy and applied to the PGA of Canada.”

A PGA of Canada professional since 2002, Gallant failed twice in one year to obtain his pro card because he said he didn’t believe in himself. The next year he enlisted the services of a new caddy who “made golf fun for me. And I got my card.”

In fact, putting fun into the game is Gallant’s calling card. In 2005 he began working at Tangle Creek Golf Club in Barrie and opened a golf academy – his first coaching post. Soon afterwards he relocated to London with his wife, Christy, a pedorthist who secured ownership of a local practice. Today she works in the same Oxford Street building shaping orthotics, while next door Brian shapes the careers of golfers of all ages.

In 2006, Gallant reached out to FireRock’s then-director of golf, Jake Norris, and began what has been a long relationship with the upscale public club. He launched his junior golf programs in 2009. Two years later he acquired the indoor Virtual Golf Academy from PGA of Canada pro Mike Newman, and established the not-for-profit LJGDC, which is aligned with Golf Canada and the National Junior Golf Development Centre.

Brian Gallant-coached Cam Kellett

Headquartered at his Oxford Street digs since 2016, Gallant has also been an active Golf in Schools participant, teaching the game of golf in a fun, interactive manner while in character as Mr. Knickers, Golf in School’s mascot instructor decked out in plus fours and newsboy cap. But don’t let the outfit fool you. Gallant is also the sophomore coach of the Western Mustangs women’s golf team. And he’s a well-decorated instructor with multiple coaching excellence awards from Golf Ontario, and now Golf Canada.

A four-year member of the Future Links advisory board whose goal is to retool and reshape programing for junior golf across Canada, Gallant is also tied to Oxbow Glen Golf Course in Komoka where LJGDC golfers hone their skills. He has helped introduce six tee blocks at the club in 2019 in order to speed up the game and make it fun again.

While making the game enjoyable for golfers of all ages is his life-long passion, Gallant coaches elite golfers, too, like London’s Cam Kellett, 19, winner of the 2018 Ontario Men’s Match Play Championship. The St. Thomas Golf and Country Club and Highland Country Club member will leave Div. II Young Harris College in Georgia this spring to play for the Div. I Nevada Wolf Pack in Reno, NV beginning this fall.

Kellett, a high school hockey player with St. Thomas Aquinas Flames, is a good example of how playing multiple sports can help in overall development, Gallant said.

“I’m a big believer in kids being involved with many different activities. If they end up being competitive golfers, great. But golf is a life-long passion, and just enjoying the game is important. That’s why I try to create an environment which will want kids to play the game for a long time,” he said.

Brian Gallant coaches Western Mustangs women’s golf team

“My big desire with junior golf is to try to have entire families playing together. Families are spending less and less time together in this age of technology. I look at my own family (including son Foster, 8, and daughter Elaina, 10). When we go on vacation, golf is usually a part of it because it allows us to spend four hours together – no phones, no distractions, just being together.”

Golf Canada will formally present Gallant with his Future Links Facility of the Year Award in late May at the FireRock-hosted Canadian University and College golf championships.

Indeed, massage therapy’s loss is golf’s gain.

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Jeffrey Reed is an award-winning golf journalist and a member of the London sports media since 1980. His third book, The Canadian Seniors’ Golf Association, Celebrating 100 Years of Seniors Golf, was published in 2018. Reach Jeffrey at jeff@londonontariogolf.com.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989.

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