Brad Ewart has a simple goal: Introduce as many kids to the game of golf as he can.
Ewart is one of the teaching professionals at Burnaby Mountain golf course and working under the leadership of David O'Connor and Don Mark, Ewart and his colleagues are making golf as affordable and accessible for kids as possible.
"Golf has been so good to me and this is a chance to give back and show kids how great a game the sport can be," said Ewart, who played professionally in Asia and has fashioned a career out of various golf ventures, including his ability to hit trick shots.
But it's in Burnaby where Ewart's helping make a mark now, including a program this summer where for only $20, kids could come once a week for three weeks, learn from a professional and then test themselves out at the Kensington pitch-andputt. And kids who are part of the parks and recreation services BActive card are entitled to hit a bucket of balls a day at the driving range. Burnaby Mountain draws kids from not just Burnaby, but New Westminster, which doesn't have its own golf course.
Two of the kids under Ewart's wing are nineyear-old Andy Luo and 10-year-old Sobha Sangha. Both students at Westridge Elementary, they go to the Burnaby driving range whenever they can.
"Andy's only missed three days since April," said Ewart. "And Sobha only picked up the game recently and he's already hitting it a long way."
Luo said he got involved when his parents started watching professional golf on television.
"My favourite golfer is Tiger Woods," said Luo, who can already hit a threewood 175 yards. "It's fun."
Sangha is hitting his nine-iron 100 yards and said he's learning a lot from Ewart.
"He's nice and when he does his trick shots, it's fun," said Sangha. "I like it the most when he hits two balls at the same time."
Luo already has a best score of 67 at Kensington, while Sangha has shot 80 at the hilly and challenging pitch-and-putt.
E w a r t , who's been working in Burnaby for the last two years, has a long history in the city.
The former Burnaby Central graduate has golfed for the past 46 years, played the sport in 32 countries on four continents and was even a journalist at the old Columbian newspaper, where he covered amateur sport as a freelancer.
Ewart's been lucky enough to play Cypress Point with one of his best friends, he's walked Augusta National and he's played the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews in Scotland, five times.
Ewart loves golf and is still a member at Pitt Meadows, but he remembers how important other sports were in his development as a golfer and as a kid.
"I was an avid golfer and an avid skier, and since all my friends played soccer, I played soccer with Wesburn. I think I got slivers from all the time I was on the bench, but I just played a lot of different sports."
Both Luo and Sangha agree with that, saying they also enjoy playing floor hockey at school. Luo is also an avid soccer player and is into taekwondo.
"I love it when Andy shows me his taekwondo medals,' said Ewart. "The fact he is strong in other sports is a sign he can be a great athlete."
Ewart is also getting a kick out of being B.C. tournament director for the Canadian Junior Golf Association, which organizes tournaments for kids all across the province. Ewart's son A.J. is a competitor on that circuit and has come away with his fair share of honours.
But winning isn't the only reason Ewart is so passionate about getting kids into golf.
"It's all about having fun," said Ewart, who added one of the first things he does with kids is give them a copy of The Rules of Golf.
"Golf has 34 rules, but the most important is 'have fun,'" said Ewart. "I want kids to learn about golf and life at the same time."
Ewart said another important part of getting more kids into the sport is getting their parents involved in the game.
"When the parents play, then it's not hard to get the kids to play as well," said Ewart. "What other sport can you do as an entire family?"
Ewart works closely with colleague Brian Crowe, having worked together in the past on other golf ventures.
"He's one of the reasons I came to Burnaby," said Ewart. "The great thing about Burnaby is they have all these great facilities. The driving range at Burnaby Mountain is great, the driving range at Riverway is great and then you have the pitch-and-putts and the (big) courses in Burnaby Mountain and Riverway. . It's just a perfect place to work and introduce as many people to golf as we can."
And while there's a perception that golf is for rich people only, Ewart said Burnaby has taken a lead role in knocking down that wall for kids.
"We have so many spare clubs and extra clubs that any kid who wants to golf, we can lend him or her clubs," said Ewart. "My goal is to always be getting more people golfing."
To prove his point, Ewart starts chatting with Burnaby NOW photographer Larry Wright and his 12-year-old son Casey, and it's not long before Casey is hitting a wood.
"Two thumbs on top and eight fingers touching," Ewart gently instructs Casey.
Casey takes his swing and as the ball rises up in the air, it's hard to see who has a bigger smile: the 12-year-old who just discovered a new sport or the still-young-at-heart instructor.
"It's a long road to be a good golfer and I've been lucky that golf has been such a great journey for me. If I can give that to kids and get them started on as rewarding a journey as I've been lucky enough to take, that's what I'm committed to."