Cookes Share Passion for Their Jobs as Golf Pros
Association News

Cookes Share Passion for Their Jobs as Golf Pros

Right from Day 1, Chris Cooke may have been destined to follow his father, Darren, into the golf industry.

Darren has been a staple for the past 36 seasons at Canmore Golf & Curling Club where he serves the dual role of general manager and director of golf. Chris is now the head professional at neighbouring Silvertip Resort, another beauty in the Bow Valley.

“The day that Christopher was born, he didn’t go straight home from the hospital. He came to the golf course first,” Darren reminisced. “There was a group of old guys that played cards in the pro shop all winter long, so we had to come and show him off. So, the first stop was the golf course.

“And ever since then … ” 

Chris grew up at Canmore Golf & Curling Club, as much a constant as the stunning mountain views. It was, as he put it, both his “daycare” and “playground.”

He was only eight when he picked the range for the first time. When he was attending high school just down the street, Darren noticed that his lunch bill at the course was usually doubled. 

After Chris completed his collegiate golf career at the University of Central Arkansas, he ultimately decided to try for his pro card. 

He and his dad are now PGA of Alberta peers. When asked about his son, “proud” is the word that Darren uses most often.

“He always seemed to be where everybody came to have fun,” Chris said, sharing his childhood impressions of the life of a golf pro. “And when you get to work at a place where everybody goes to enjoy themselves, it makes for a pretty good work environment, for the most part. 

“We’re here to facilitate enjoyment, to facilitate camaraderie, to facilitate fun. It’s just such a great sport to be involved with.”

Now in his ninth season as a pro, Chris has even more appreciation for why his father has such a sterling reputation in the golf biz. Darren was the PGA of Alberta’s Club Professional of the Year in 2014. 

“He really cares about everyone else before himself,” Chris said. “There is no job that is too big or too small for him to take on, and I have always really respected him for that. Some people think, ‘Oh, as a golf pro, you just walk the range and teach a few lessons.’ They don’t tell you that sometimes you have to clean the bathrooms or once in a while, you have to do some real dirty jobs that aren’t very glorious. But it’s all about getting it done.” 

Whatever it is that you’re trying to get done, it helps to have somebody you can lean on for advice, experience or just a sounding board. For this father-son duo, that goes both ways. Golf isn’t the Cookes only shared passion. They also like to strap on the pads and tend the nets at the hockey rink.


“We share a lot of conversations back and forth, and I learn a lot from him too,” Darren said. “With the PGA of Alberta and PGA of Canada, it’s always been about networking and helping each other and sharing. Of course, when it’s your family member, sometimes those conversations are easier and sometimes they’re a little more difficult.

“I know in our area, with all of the golf courses, you can ask anybody around here and you’ll get an honest answer about what’s going on. Everybody is willing to help out. And when it’s your son, you answer that phone quickly and maybe get it done a little quicker, because it’s a part of you.”

For the Cookes, golf has been a big part of their lives. This Father’s Day will be extra special for Chris — his first with a child of his own. His daughter, Ruth, was born last August. And yeah, she is already a regular at the course.  


“Through the winter, there was a simulator set up in the Canmore pro shop,” Chris said. “So, I would take her around there quite frequently and we’d hang out with Grandpa and I’d hit a couple shots and she’d be cruising around and she just wanted to grab every golf club or every golf ball she could see. It’s cool to see her so excited already and I just want to continue to expose her to all the greatness that golf can deliver. If she chooses it as one of her pastimes, great. And if not, so be it. She’ll have a lot of other activities going on. But just the way she’s already grabbing that golf club, I think she’s going to be hooked.”

That would be a case of history repeating itself.

“There’s not many places I’d rather be other than the golf course or hanging out with my family,” Chris beamed. “And at the golf course, I get to do both.”

PGA of Alberta Golf Professionals Launch FREE Community Outreach Drive
Association News

PGA of Alberta Golf Professionals Launch FREE Community Outreach Drive

Program focused on introducing people with a physical disability set for August 16 in Calgary

Golf professionals in Alberta are teeing up a drive to break down barriers and make the game more inclusive for people with physical/cognitive disabilities, Indigenous communities, and women, by hosting a series of community outreach learn-to-play sessions at facilities throughout the province this summer.

Funded by Jumpstart, PGA of Alberta’s Assistants Board will host a series of clinics in Calgary and Edmonton with the goal of making the game of golf a more welcoming and inclusive place for all to enjoy.

“We created this program as a way for our PGA of Canada Golf Professionals to not only assist with instructing the grass roots portion of the game, but to also reach those demographics who can sometimes be unserved when it comes to receiving golf instruction” said Bryce Halverson, Head Associate Golf Professional at Carnmoney Golf Club.

“The PGA of Alberta is committed to elevating the experience for numerous traditionally under-serviced demographics in the community by doing our part to provide positive experiences through golf instruction and activities. We hope to further strengthen the overall local golf community with inclusivity and diversity,” added Stephen Yanitski, Assistant Golf Professional at Valley Ridge Golf Club.

Both Halverson and Yanitski, along with Jumpstart and the PGA of Alberta, created a plan to serve this need, and identified four key community groups they will open doors to, and positively impact in 2024: people with a physical disability; Indigenous communities; women/girls; and Els for Autism/Special Olympics.

A FREE program for golfers of any age with physical limitations will be available on August 23rd from 12 noon – 5 p.m. at the Valley Ridge Golf Club in Calgary. A total of 24 participants will be instructed by six PGA of Alberta Assistants Board members through four, one-hour stations: driving range; putting green; short game area; and activity time. Equipment will be provided and prizes up for grabs. Registration is available at

PGA of Alberta golf professionals Shannon Raina (Earl Grey Golf Club) and Tyler Leicht (Derrick Golf and Winter Club) will team up to host a FREE one-day summer camp for up to 16 Indigenous youth at Rundle Park Short Course in Edmonton on August 16, 2024. Participants will receive six hours of FREE instruction, access to equipment, lunch, and a sleeve of golf balls at the conclusion of the camp. Registration details are to follow. 

Calgary-based professionals – Amy Popkes (Silver Springs Golf and Country Club) and Lisa Rosengarten (Glencoe Golf and Country Club) will lead a series of FREE events focused on supporting Els 4 Autism, Aspergers Friendship Society, and Special Olympics.

A Special Olympics Tournament was held at Silver Springs Golf and Country Club, June 20. Additionally, an Els 4 Autism tournament will be held on August 12 at The Links of Gleneagles. Prior to taking the course, all kids will participate in a two-hour instructional clinic as a way to get them involved in the game.

Over the last two months, Elizabeth Stewart (Petroleum Golf and Country Club) and Gina Nelson (Highlands Golf Club) introduced more than 70 junior girls and young women to the game. Four instructors joined forces to teach newcomers to the game in May at Victoria Golf Club. Participants then tested their skills in a fun round of golf at Rundle Park in June, creating an additional opportunity to bring young girls and women around the city together. PGA of Alberta Golf Professionals were on-hand to provide instruction throughout the round. 

“I personally experienced the power sport can have, as a young child and now in my career as a golf professional. Sport and physical activities are fundamental for all of us to learn new skills, boost confidence, build self-esteem,” said Elizabeth Stewart, Associate Golf Professional at Edmonton Petroleum Golf and Country Club. “These clinics will not only introduce kids from these communities to the game, but they will create opportunities to meet other kids, and provide new experiences while having fun putting, playing and just enjoying themselves. Gina and I are hopeful that introducing young girls and women to the sport while representing women in prominent roles in the golf industry will inspire each of them to pursue their goals and success in their own lives. Representation and participation in golf are integral to ensuring this demographic feels that they belong in the golf community.”

Joey Busetto and fellow pros at the Edmonton Petroleum Golf and Country Club will also host two more FREE adaptive golf lessons throughout the summer: July 26 (chipping, pitching, putting) and a three-hole on-course session August 23 where a golf professional will be in each group. Registration is available through the following link:

For more information about the PGA of Alberta, please visit

Todd Kuczma In Memorium
Association News

Todd Kuczma In Memorium

Todd Kuczma, beloved son, father, brother, uncle, and friend, passed away on Thursday, June 20, 2024, at the age of 48 years.

Todd was born in Ontario and moved to Alberta when he was four years old. Growing up he moved with his family to Houston, Texas and Red Deer before finally settling in Calgary in 1988. Todd had an incredible sense of humour, (he could make anybody laugh), an easy-going personality, patient, kind and would do anything for the people he loved at the drop of a hat. Todd was friends with everyone he met for life. From an early age, he participated and excelled in sports. He had two great loves in his life – his son, Jake and the game of golf.

In his early twenties, he became a member of the Canadian Professional Golfer’s Association and worked at several golf courses in and around Calgary. In 2015 he left the industry to work for Canadian Engravers. At about the same time he started his own business under Blackwolf Golf Inc. It was a way for his friends and golf associates to participate in high-level golf competitions at affordable rates. Later he was able to successfully add engraving golf merchandise as a significant part of the business.

If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta, 5757 – 4th Street SE, Calgary, AB  T2H 1K8,


Calgary’s Craig Gibson and Jason Renneberg Win 2024 Tournament of Champions
Tournament News

Calgary’s Craig Gibson and Jason Renneberg Win 2024 Tournament of Champions

CALGARY—Calgary’s Craig Gibson and Jason Renneberg joined forces to win the 2024 Sunice Bobby Jones Tournament of Champions presented by Motocaddy Canada at the Carmoney Golf Club on Monday.

Gibson, a PGA of Canada professional down the road in the south end of Calgary at the Sirocco Golf Club paired up with his club champion, Renneberg, where the duo fired a sizzling 8-under-par 64 in the breezy conditions.

“It was a beautiful day. The golf course is in amazing condition, playing hard and fast out there. Jay and I made a lot of putts today. We made some nice bombs to make some birdies,” said Gibson. “We had a nice hot finish with three birdies on the last five holes that sealed the deal for us.”

The Tournament of Champions brought together 52 PGA of Canada professionals in Alberta with the club champion from their home course.

“It’s a great tournament,” added Renneberg. “It was a great opportunity to come and play the course and with my pro. Craig is a stud so is very easy and fun to play with.”

Kevin Graf and Jason Haley from Woodside Golf Course in Airdrie, Alta. finished one-shot off the leading mark in second place. Eric Locke and Nick Pothier from Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club carded a 67 to finish in a three-way tie for third with Jamie Gerlitz and Matt Whittaker from Picture Butte Golf Club and Samuel Kirkness and Gerry MacDonald Jr. out of the Inglewood Golf and Country Club.

Complete Results:

Next up on the 2024 PGA of Alberta Tournament schedule is the Players Tour 1-Day event at the Lacombe Golf and Country Club, July 4.

Pasitney and Asai Claim First Pro-Am of the Season
Tournament News

Pasitney and Asai Claim First Pro-Am of the Season

PGA of Alberta hosted their first Pro-Am of the season at Cardiff G&CC, a semi-private golf club located just 12 minutes north of St. Albert. Built on one of Alberta’s first underground coal mines, its unique setting offers challenges to golfers of all levels, including Seniors from around the province who joined their club professionals to compete for the 2024 Pro-Senior title.

The team from Edmonton Petroleum G&CC, Jeremie Pasitney and Ted Asai, lead the field with 45 points in the best ball stableford format. On their way to victory, Pasitney and Asai carded 2 eagles and 7 birdies to edge out the team from Picture Butte GC, Jamie Gerlitz and Clint Collier, by one. In solo third place, Jeff Cuthbertson and his partner Paul Prefontaince from Stony Plain GC, did their best to chase down the leaders with 8 birdies of their own but ended 2 points shy of our winners.

Position Professional Facility Partner Stableford Points
1st Jeremie Pasitney Edmonton Petroleum G&CC Ted Asai 45
2nd Jamie Gerlitz Picture Butte GC Clint Collier 44
3rd Jeff Cuthbertson Stony Plain GC Paul Prefontaine 43
T-4th Jeremy Lavallee Cardiff G&CC Peter Blandy 42
T-4th Tyler Robinson The Quarry Robert Robinson 42
T-6th Mel Dies Nanton GC Garry Winslade 41
T-6th Murray McCourt Ranch G&CC (The) Kevin Karius 41
T-6th Keith Whitecotton The Quarry Brian Samletzki 41
T-9th Nic Longley Sliver Springs G&CC Mark Stobart 40
T-9th Dean Dereniuk Meadowlands GC Dave Gyori 40
T-9th John Wilson Montgomery Glen GC Bob Mullen 40
T-12th Dallas Cantera Cardiff G&CC Glenn Girard 39
T-12th Kyle Wade PGA of Alberta Member Bruce Wade 39
T-14th Scott Westman Ranch G&CC (The) Bob Janow 38
T-14th Andre DiBartolo Edmonton Garrison Memorial G&CC Rob VanOuwerkerk 38
T-14th Chris Hughes Edmonton CC Clint Hogge 38

Mitchell Fox Celebrates Five-Shot Win at PGA of Alberta Players Tour 2-Day Event
Tournament News

Mitchell Fox Celebrates Five-Shot Win at PGA of Alberta Players Tour 2-Day Event

EDMONTON—Calgary’s Mitchell Fox made it look easy on Tuesday despite challenging conditions to close with a 5-under-par, 67 for a handy five-shot victory at the Players Tour 2-Day competition at the Cougar Creek Golf Resort near Edmonton.

The Apprentice Professional from the Speargrass Golf Course charged into Oil country, teeing up his work week by taking a two-shot lead into Tuesday’s final round of the 36-hold event. Fox was one of two players in the field of 45 to break par, posting a 69 on the 6,542-yard layout in Monday’s opening round.

The former Canadian Tour player mixed together one eagle with five birdies and two bogeys for a sizzling 67 in the final trip around the tree-lined, rolling layout to secure the win (69-67—136).

“I played really good today. It is the type of course that you have to find your way around it, and hit to certain spots, but the course is in great shape, it was a good day and I’m happy with how I played,” said Fox, the son of a Class A Professional who turned pro himself in 2007 before joining the PGA of Canada just four years ago.

Tyler LeBouthillier (365 Golf Inc.) was one of two other players behind Fox to card a round in the 60s in the final round.

LeBouthillier chalked up five birdies of his own to go along with one bogey to lock up second spot with rounds of 73-68—141. Adam Bruce (Northern Bear Golf Course) also fired a 68 to finish in a tie for fourth place at 145 with Jeff Cuthbertson (Stony Plain Golf Course). Cuthbertson was one of just four players to go sub-par on Tuesday.

Kevin Black (Redwood Meadows Golf and Country Club), who was sitting in second spot at 71 after the opening round, dropped a spot on the leaderboard following a final-round 18-hole spin of 73 for a total of 144.

Complete Results:

The Pro-Senior Pro-Am, presented by Golf Trends Inc. and Levelwear is next on the 2024 tournament docket. A field of 46 teams will tee it up at Cardiff Golf and Country Club on June 20.

For more information on the PGA of Alberta calendar of events, please visit

Fox Leads by 2 After Round One at Cougar Creek GR
Tournament News

Fox Leads by 2 After Round One at Cougar Creek GR

The first 2-day Players’ Tour event teed off today at Cougar Creek GR just west of Edmonton. After a rainy and windy start, the skies opened up to a beautiful afternoon for the 45 players in the field, who hope for calmer weather tomorrow morning as round 2 begins at 7:30am. 

Mitchell Fox (Speargrass GC) leads the field by 2 after five birdies lead to an opening round of 69. Following close behind is Kevin Black (Redwood Meadows G&CC) who had three birdies of his own to finish the day with a 1-under 71.

Leaders After Round 1

Name Facility Score
Mitchell Fox Speargrass GC 69
Kevin Black Redwood Meadows G&CC 71
Scott Smith Dynamic Motion Golf Performance Centre 73
Levi McDermott Big Buck Golf Centre 73
Tyler LeBouthillier 365 GOLF 73
Matthew Mah Mill Woods GC 74
Jake Behiels Cougar Creek GR 75
Jeff Cuthbertson Stony Plain GC 75
Michael Thompson Windermere G&CC 75
Shawn Proulx River Ridge G&CC 75

Round 2 Draw

Who Says You Can’t Go Home
Association News

Who Says You Can’t Go Home

Mathew MacDonald and Weston Gillett can look out the window and sometimes feel like they’re watching a rewind from their junior-golf days.


That’s one of the unique perks of working as head professional at the same course where you first fell in love with the sport. In MacDonald’s case, that would be Olds Golf Club. Gillett, meanwhile, learned the finer points of the game on the fairways and greens at Lacombe Golf & Country Club. 

“I can’t remember who came up with the term, but I was what they called one of the ‘grapes’ of the pro-shop, because I would just hang around,” MacDonald said with a chuckle. “There were weeks when I was out here seven straight days as a kid. It was basically whenever mom and dad were able to get me to the golf course, I was usually more than willing to go.

“So yeah, I can definitely see a part of myself in some of these youngsters.”

Gillett, his fellow PGA of Alberta pro, knows that feeling.

Long before he had an office at Lacombe Golf & Country Club, he was one of the young whippersnappers with a stall in the junior club storage area. 

Whenever he wanted to practice or play, he’d simply lace up his sneakers and walk to the course. When he arrived, he typically had to empty his pockets.

“Luckily, I didn’t live too far from here,” Gillett reminisced. “Back when I was a kid, the highway wasn’t as busy as it is now. I wouldn’t recommend walking anymore, but it wasn’t that busy back then. 

“So, I’d walk over, and then on the other side of the highway, there’s ball diamonds across

from our ninth hole. I used to walk up between the ball diamonds and the golf course and I’d find tons of golf balls. I remember never having to buy balls because I’d find them as I was walking.”

Gillett had such fond memories of his upbringing at Lacombe Golf & Country Club — and his stints as a high-schooler on the maintenance crew and pro-shop staff — that he admits there was a bit of apprehension as he pondered whether to apply to be the head pro in his hometown. He’s now in his sixth season in the role after making the move from Drayton Valley. 

“This golf course, this Club, it’s always been very important to me because it’s kind of where I grew up, and I didn’t want to go in and have a negative outlook if something were not to be quite as I perceived it,” Gillett explained. “But it’s been really good. It’s all been super positive.”

MacDonald is just getting settled into his new job as pro/manager at Olds. He worked up the road in Innisfail for the past three years. 

“This was always something that was in the back of my mind that I wanted to potentially do,” he said. “I mean, this course kind of gave me my start in the golf world — both as a back-shop kid when I was younger and again as I was starting to make my way into the professional ranks. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the town of Olds and for the golf course. When I had an opportunity to jump up and take the position, I jumped into it with both feet. It’s been a really fun experience so far. It’s very interesting. I always say it’s very weird that I get to sit on the other side of the same desk where I used to get in trouble if I did something wrong out here.

“But it’s been a lot of fun. Pretty cool.”

For Gillett, MacDonald, and other professionals now working at the same facilities where they were first introduced to the game, the best part isn’t the opportunity to occasionally relive their youth. 

 It’s the opportunity to influence the next wave. 

When Gillett was a smooth-swinging junior, Kevin Snell was head pro at Lacombe. He was delighted when Snell, a PGA of Alberta life member, stopped by on his first day on the job to offer his congratulations. 

“I see a lot of kids that come out here, and I see a little bit of myself in them,” said Gillett, now a proud father of three. “I was always treated really, really well by the previous pros when I was kid and they’d take me out to play. I know the first couple times that I played with Kevin when I was 12 or 13 years old, I was just in awe of what he could do with the golf ball. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t like Tiger Woods or anything. But to me, it was.

“I can remember walking in the shop and Kevin had his bag there with his name on it, and I thought that was so cool. I thought that was just one step below seeing Tiger Woods.”

MacDonald, too, can rattle off a list of pros who had a major impact on his growing love for golf and instilling the values that you learn while chasing birdies and pars — honesty, integrity, and responsibility to name a few.

“One of the things that I’ve always remembered is that those individuals always made time for me, always took time to say hello or come walk out on the putting green to see how I was doing,” MacDonald said. “They always made themselves very available. They were very generous with their time. And I always try to remember that — that I probably wouldn’t be here in the position that I’m in if it wasn’t for their encouragement, their kindness and their willingness to have that influence on my golf game and my life. I always try to remember that no matter what comes up, it’s the people first and making sure that people feel valued and welcomed. A simple tip on the driving range can go a long way toward helping a relationship grow. In my case, it helped me create a career out of it.”

Samuel Kirkness and Glenn Carr Take Playoffs to Win PGA of Alberta Players Tour Title
Tournament News

Samuel Kirkness and Glenn Carr Take Playoffs to Win PGA of Alberta Players Tour Title

Kirkness claims 2024 title in second extra hole, Carr captures seniors crown after first playoff hole

EDMONTON—Samuel Kirkness and Glenn Carr proved victorious following extra holes at the Players Tour presented by Duca del Cosma at the Mill Woods Golf Course.

Kirkness (Inglewood Golf and Country Club) captured the main event in a two-hole playoff, while Carr (Lakeside Golf Club) triumphed in the first extra hole to take the seniors’ category. 

Kirkness – the 2023 Club Professional Championship winner – finished deadlocked at 70 with Wes Heffernan (Dynamic Motion Golf Performance Centre), Jacques Plouffe (Royal Mayfair Golf Club), Nick Vandermey and Keith Whitecotton (The Quarry) following an 18-hole spin of the 6,778-yard track in Edmonton.

Kirkness, Heffernan and Whitecotton dropped Plouffe and Vandermey after matching pars on the first extra hole, a 381-yard par-4. The PGA of Alberta heavyweights exchanged shots to the green on the par-5 538-yard test where Kirkness solidified the title with a birdie.

A close battle also unfolded in the seniors’ division (golf professionals 50 and older) where Carr (Lakeside Golf Club) and Andre DiBartolo (Edmonton Garrison Memorial Golf and Country Club) carded identical scores of 76.

Carr wasted little time putting his name in the history books as the 2024 winner, topping DiBartolo on the first extra hole – the 364-yard, par-4 10th hole.

Just over 100 players teed it up through the rainy conditions in the morning shotgun start.

Final Results - Main Field

Final Results - Seniors Division

For more information on the PGA of Alberta calendar of events, please visit

Welcome To The Association
Play Ability Test News

Welcome To The Association

Congratulations to the 5 players who passed the Play Ability Test today at Edmonton Garrison Memorial G&CC. The 5 players all successfully passed after shooting the target score (78) or better to become an Apprentice Professional of the PGA of Canada.

Name Score
Michael Zorn (River Ridge GC) 77
Austin Gendreau (River Ridge GC) 77
Ethan Rimmer (Miskanaw GC) 77
Cameron Boyd (Japser Park Lodge GC) 78
 Nicholas Heyland (Windermere G&CC)  78