As the saying goes: do what you love and the money will follow.
Occasionally, so do prestigious awards. Just ask Graham Frey.
Frey was recently recognized by the Professional Golfers’ Association of British Columbia for his work as a club pro at Whitehorse’s Mountain View Golf Club.
He has been named Teacher of the Year for the Kootenays/Northern B.C./Yukon region, the largest of the association’s four regions in B.C.
“I was obviously happy and excited,” said Frey. “It was a bit of a surprise because you don’t really know. You’re nominated by one of your peers and they submit things on your behalf. So until it’s announced, no one really knows they’re in the running. It is a nice surprise.”
Frey received his award at a PGA of B.C. end of season ceremony in Richmond, B.C., last Wednesday. The 37-year-old was in the running for the overall provincial award but it went to an instructor from the Okanagan.
“It’s really nice to be recognized, but I couldn’t have achieved this on my own without the help of a lot of people,” said Frey. “Number one was support from home. My wife Jennifer and I have three kids … and in the golf season you’re working 40 hours in the shop and teaching 20 to 40 hours a week, that’s a lot of time away from home. With a family of three it can really busy and she does a lot of the work while I’m doing what I love to do and it makes it easier to do that…
“Our staff at Mountain View is really good, our membership is fantastic and the people of Whitehorse support me – they’re interested in learning about golf and improving their games. So I’m really fortunate to have the opportunity to work with all these people.
“I just kept busy, didn’t pay much attention, didn’t even think about it. The thought of winning an award never really crossed my mind. I just enjoy spending time with those people and I just did what I normally do. It’s nice to be recognized by my peers for doing something well.”
Frey, who is originally from Winnipeg, is finishing his third season with the 18-hole championships course in Whitehorse. He was a club pro at Mountain View for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, winning the One Club Wonder
Invitational in 2011 shortly before returning to Winnipeg for two years. He then returned to Whitehorse and Mountain View for this past season.
Frey became a member of the PGA of Canada in 2005 and has worked at a number of premier courses in Manitoba. Before coming to Whitehorse in 2010, Frey spent two season at the Harvest Golf Club in Kelowna, B.C., where he carded a personal best 68 over 18 holes.
“I got into the PGA in 2005 and in my second year I found teaching is going to be my avenue,” said Frey. “I’ve been lucky to work for guys who always encouraged me and provided opportunity to teach and were also very good teachers. So I’ve had good people to learn from.
“What brought me to the Yukon was the opportunity to teach more.”
“It was nice for him to get some recognition,” said Jeff Wiggins, director of golf at Mountain View. “He did two good years of teaching when he was up here previous. This was his first year back and again he does a good job.
His passion is there and he’s one of the few guys that does an all-around good job with instruction.
“He’s one of those well-rounded golf professionals and he deserves to be recognized for it. I don’t have the luxury of time so I can get out there and do some instruction, so he really carries the ball with our programs up here.”
Frey oversees a number of programs for Mountain View and the Yukon Golf Association, including an in-school program and a developmental program for Special Olympics Yukon.
He also conducts junior programs, ladies programs, corporate programs and, of course, gives plenty of private instruction.
“Jeff is busy with the daily operations of the facility, so all the teaching falls on to me, and it’s up to me, I can be as busy or not-busy as I want to be,” said Frey. “It’s my own business; it’s not in my duties under my contract of employment with Mountain View Golf Club. I do it all on my own time and I just like to provide opportunities to learn to play golf.
“I focus a lot on kids and junior development and that’s a big part of it. And beginner golfers, introducing people to the game of golf … Getting more people playing is our major goal. I just love spending time with people, helping people and that just comes across in what I do.”
Following some well-deserved time off, Frey will turn his attention to the winter golf program from January to March at Mountain View.
The program provides local golfers the opportunity to receive instruction, or simply get some practice, during the snowy months using a high-tech golf simulator.
Summer or winter, Frey tries his best to make his lessons relaxed and stress free, he said.
“I try to make it fun and very relaxed,” said Frey. “For someone to really learn and absorb something, it has to be in a comfortable environment. You have to build relationships quickly and establish some trust. No matter what it is, a golf lesson or something else you’re trying to learn, when you first show up you can be nervous and have the feeling of being judged, you have to be able to wash that away from people quickly and have them feel relaxed and at ease. That’s when people do their best.
“So I like to think I do things a little differently than the next guy.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org