Canadians need corporate bucks

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

Every dollar -- even cent -- counts on the Canadian Tour.

Especially if the window on making a jump to the richer circuits appears to be closing with every passing week.

Just ask Strathmore's Stuart Anderson, a Can Tour veteran forever struggling to be the kind of money golfer he knows he can be.

"The whole jump to the next level is the biggest issue with us," said Anderson, speaking on behalf of players, such as Calgarian Wes Heffernan and Ontarian Derek Gillespie, who are closing in on a decade competing on the Can Tour.

"On the Canadian Tour, you have to win four or five times in a year to make $30,000."

Anderson, 30, believes it begins with sponsorship, an aspect of the game heightened in the last decade by the influence of Tiger Woods.

Here in oil-rich Alberta, financial support for golfers is hard to come by despite the province putting more golfers on the circuits than any other. The Can Tour alone boasts more than a dozen, led by Anderson, Heffernan, Strathmore's Dustin Risdon, Calgary's James Love and Lethbridge's Kris Wasylowich.

"The whole sponsorship issue is so tough -- if Canada wants another Mike Weir or another Stephen Ames, then the sponsorship is needed," said Anderson, who was born in Calgary and took up the game seriously while living in Fort McMurray. "I work over the winter so I can cover my living expenses over the winter, and when it comes time to start the golf year, I'm fighting for a cheque. Each cheque makes a difference."

Anderson is in his eighth year on the Canadian Tour, and the affable golfer is finding this season particularly tough since he's trying to support a young family, including an 11-month-old.

After a share of 15th place for a payout of $2,400 at the Ontario-hosted Seaforth Country Classic over the weekend, Anderson has pocketed just $10,821 in 13 Can Tour events this year.

That includes a $5,425 paycheque earned at the Saskatchewan Open in July.

In 2005, Anderson finished fifth and was the top Canadian on the tour's money list and made $47,000. Much of that goes to spending up to $2,000 a week on hotels, caddies and other expenses.

"To do this properly and to have the fitness training and sports psychology and stuff, you need anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 a year," Anderson said. "To know you need to make a putt to keep going with it is not the way to do it. But I've been doing it for so long now, I just keep at it."

Anderson knows he can only struggle for a few more years before a career change is in order, so he doesn't mind speaking on behalf of the up-and-coming Alberta golfers.

"How much money is in Calgary or in Alberta that's available?" Anderson said. "For a company or a corporation or an individual to give a young guy like Michael Knight or some of these prospects -- because I'm 30 years old and I know my window is closing -- $50,000 to $100,000, then maybe we can have another Mike Weir or Stephen Ames.

"If that doesn't happen, then we're lying to ourselves (about supporting golf)."


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