Transforming Lives Through Golf
Since 2014, Beacon Hall Golf Club in Toronto has hosted an annual tournament for Soldier
On, an experience that has transformed the lives of many members, raised almost a
million dollars, and turned golf into the fastest growing sport within the Soldier On
“What started as a desire to support our veterans by sending them to the home of golf: St
Andrews, Scotland, for a week, has far surpassed our expectations,” says Jim Mitchell,
former Beacon Hall member and Soldier On Event Chairman, who alongside fellow members
Terry Hammond and Bill MacLean, first introduced the idea of hosting a tournament.
He recalls the first event in June of 2014 as a major success because of champions like Phil
Hardy who was the head professional at Beacon Hall Golf Club and Jim McApline, a Beacon
Hall member who immediately saw the potential and became the first to align with the
concept and say "yes we are all in."
Across the Atlantic in St Andrews, Scotland, Graham Proctor served as the local contact and champion with a burning passion to help veterans. He hosted Canadian veterans and created a once in a lifetime event to help ill and injured find a path to a full recovery. In April of this year, Graham Proctor sadly passed from ALS at 54 years of age, but his passion for his family, his country and our veterans remain his legacy.
“While Beacon Hall occasionally hosts fundraisers, it does so on a very limited basis. However, when approached with the Soldier On concept the support was unanimous and very enthusiastic,” recalls Phil Hardy, Professional Emeritus at Beacon Hall.
To date, the Beacon Hall event has attracted some amazing corporate sponsors such as TD insurance, MLSE, Tim Hortons, Bonnefield and many others. Their support has allowed the event to keep growing. It has also inspired a successful event in Moncton for the past three years, as well as many regional golf camps across the country, benefitting Soldier On members in every part of Canada
Many of the loyal supporters within the sponsorship group have been with the cause from day one and continue to sustain the effort. What started as a few people travelling to St Andrews has grown to hundreds of members attending golf events every year across Canada.
For retired Officer Cadet Mike Briggs, who participated in the Beacon Hall tournament in 2018, the experience proved transformative.
“The week of training as well as meeting fellow veterans was eye opening. The Beacon Hall Course was incredible and all the sponsors and participants were amazing to be around,” he recalls.
The event fuelled a lifelong love of golf in Briggs, as all as in many other members.
“The organizers of the Beacon Hall tournament have provided a pivotal event for Soldier On, not only graciously hosting ill/injured serving members and veterans at one of the most prestigious courses in Canada, but have importantly provided a platform to raise awareness and hundreds of thousands of funds to enable others to use golf and sport in their recovery across Canada,” says Jay Feyko, National Manager of Soldier On. “This movement has been so inspirational that mirrored events have been successfully executed across Canada to support Soldier On and golf has become the fastest growing sport within the Soldier On community.”
While Covid-19 has resulted in a temporary postponement of the 2020 edition of the tournament, the event has become a staple on the Beacon Hall Annual Event Calendar for the last six years with annual revenues exceeding $150,000 and cumulatively $900,000 over its brief history.
“Beacon Hall continues to be the very proud host of Soldier On and its efforts to provide necessary funding for those who have sacrificed so much for those of us who benefit from their service,” says Hardy.
“While each story is different there is a common thread and that is ‘selfless service to Canada.’ Many have paid the ultimate price and thousands have been profoundly impacted by PTSD and/or physical injuries. Giving back to help those who stood tall for Canada has been a wonderful privilege for everyone associated with our events,” concludes Mitchell.