Indigenous Ontario golf championship a welcome announcement for Rainbow Ridge Golf Course

MANITOWANING—The general manager of the Rainbow Ridge Golf Course (RRGC) says that a new Indigenous Ontario golf championship, being hosted by Golf Ontario, will be a game changer. And John Dube didn’t rule out the local Manitowaning-based golf course hosting this tournament sometime in the future.

“This is a big announcement for Golf Ontario,” said John Dube, general manager of the RRGC. “It is something that will be a game changer for Golf Canada, Golf Ontario and Indigenous golfers. There are definitely a lot of local golfers who gave the potential to not only go and play at this event, but to win at this championship if they continue to work on their game.”

“Golf for all is a statement that is extremely important to Golf Ontario. Golf Ontario believes that the great game of golf should be enjoyed by, and accessible to, all Canadians. The core principles of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is central to this and are the reasons why the advancement of DEI has been championed within Golf Ontario,” a press release states.

“Golf Ontario is thrilled to announce the launch of the Indigenous Ontario Golf Championship, the first provincial golf championship for Indigenous people in Canada. It is our honour to play a role in this inaugural championship event,” said Susan Vail, president of Golf Ontario.

Open to golfers of First Nations, Metis, or Inuk (Inuit) descent, the inaugural Indigenous Ontario Golf Championship will be held on September 19-20, 2022 at the MontHill Golf and Country club, hosted by Chief Mark Hill and the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. “Step by step, we are transforming the face of golf.”

The Indigenous Ontario Golf Championship will be a 36-hole competition, taking place over two days. There will be both a gross-championship division, and a net Stableford division, and will be open to men and women of all ages, the release explains.

Mr. Dube said, “over the last couple of years, Golf Ontario has been focusing on encouraging women, and those with special needs, to try the game of golf. For people who are first taking up the game there can be an intimidation factor there that they need excellent players to play that they are not playing fast enough. Golf Ontario has been trying to make playing golf a comfortable atmosphere for everyone; that they can go to a golf course and have a fun, relaxing day.”

Following the successful launch of the Ontario disability championship in 2019, the Indigenous Ontario golf championship will be another example of new ways to engage more people as part of Golf Ontario’s championship schedule. “We are very excited to be launching the inaugural Indigenous Ontario Golf Championship in 2022,” said Mike Kelly, chief executive officer of Golf Ontario. “As an organization, we have made significant strides in championing the advancement of DEI and this new championship will be another great example of new opportunities for all golfers and a platform to build relationships with Indigenous communities for years go come. MontHill Golf and Country Club was built on First Nations land and will be a fantastic host for the first year of the championship.”

Ms. Dube did not rule out the possible potential of Rainbow Ridge hosting the tournament in the future years at some point.  “I would imagine we could look at this in the future.  We are affiliated with Golf Ontario and Golf Canada and have a challenging course. We have done some major improvements here and are looking at possible expansion in the next couple of years.”

“There are some challenges,” said Mr. Dube. “The CanCom Security tournament we held last August was a large event, but it was held on one day, while the Ontario championship will be multiple days. Our annual men’s open tournament is a three-day event but a lot of the guys that come from other areas have cottages and bring a group over with them to play in the tournament.”

“I think if we can start correcting the accommodation situation then these and new events will start to grow,” said Mr. Dube. “One of the things we have discussed is the feasibility of using the property that (Rainbow Ridge) purchased around the course. It makes it possible to have a recreational vehicle park,  condominiums, an accommodation concept and retirement housing concept. All of these will be looked at as part of potential long-term planning. But there would be lots of steps to get to this point.” He noted that, “there is probably an additional 500-600 acres of property that we can work with that (RRGC) owns that is situated around the golf course.”

Golf Ontario will continue working closely with Indigenous leaders across the province to ensure that the launch of this championship will be met with significant interest and excitement.

“We want to thank Golf Ontario for their commitment to growing the game of golf, and for launching the new Indigenous Ontario Golf Championship,” said championship co-chair Steve Tooshkenig. “This new championship represents an amazing opportunity for people of all Indigenous backgrounds to play in a true provincial championship and test their game against some of the best Indigenous golfers in the province. Having both a net and gross division will ensure that this event will attract golfers from a wide range of playing abilities, making it truly an inclusive event.”

Details on player eligibility and registration will be available in the coming weeks