Aug 24, 2023

By Christine Ross

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The city of Kitchener’s dementia-friendly golf program is helping people reconnect with the sport.

After being sidelined during the pandemic GOLF FORE LIFE is teeing up once again.

“To my knowledge, we’re the only program like this,” says Bethany Pearce, supervisor for older adult services with the city of Kitchener.

“Persons living with dementia are some of our most stigmatized individuals around, so this program really does work to break down those barriers and form those social connections, again we’ve created this safe and welcoming community where they can all come together,” adds Pearce.

She says the “Golf Fore Life” program at Kitchener’s Rockway Golf Course is aimed at younger Zoomers with dementia. And if you’ve ever played, you can relate to the golf being described as “tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle” but in this league, there’s no competition.

“There are so many laughs and although we don’t keep score we certainly cheer each other on but we also recognize that yep, that was a bad shot, so the social connections that are formed both between our golfers and with the caddies is just amazing to see.”

Golfer Tyler Calver is a volunteer caddy.

“I just thought this was an amazing opportunity for those folks who still love the game of golf.”

Tyler caddies for John, a former engineer in his 70’s who suffers from dementia.

“A lot of the golfers in our group are still great golfers they still have that muscle memory,” says Tyler who’d like to see the program expanded to other cities including Toronto.

Bethany Pearce says collectively, we need to work really hard to create a community that’s welcoming for all persons but certainly for those living with dementia.

“It’s so rewarding because we think we’re helping them but in a large way, they’re helping us,” added Tyler.

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