By Stuart Miller-Davis
The end of Ottawa native Grace St-Germain’s collegiate golf career with Arkansas University was cut short by COVID-19, but she’s excited to begin her journey into coaching.
St-Germain, 21, is now shadowing PGA golf professional Derek MacDonald at The Marshes Golf Club in Kanata to learn about teaching the game. The two met during St-Germain’s time with Team Canada and when she reached out to MacDonald expressing interest in coaching, he jumped at the idea to have her join him at The Marshes.
“Originally, she reached out to me saying – hey, would I help her to understand the golf swing better and be able to teach it,” he said. “I took it as an opportunity… I’d love to have her on my team and be able to build her and get her to grow as a PGA member and instructor.’”
St-Germain was exuberant to learn about the industry from her former coach.
“As of right now, I’ve learned a lot of the day-to-day things like watching him in the pro shop and I’m going to be observing some lessons coming up,” St-Germain said.
MacDonald is looking forward to showing St-Germain the ins and outs of being a golf professional.
“She’s so calm and got such a great personality for this,” he said. “Obviously she’s always going to be a great player but now she’s moving into that coaching role.”
St-Germain was introduced to golf by way of her grandparents. They ran the junior golf program at the Highlands Golf Club for a few summers.
“They brought me out to the club one day and I decided I really liked it,” St-Germain said.
She went on to have an impressive junior career with stops on the Golf Canada National Development team and national team while splitting her collegiate career between Daytona State and Arkansas.
During her junior career she won 1st place in the Quebec Women’s Provincials and a Canadian Junior Girls championship in 2014, along with a 1st place finish at the Ontario Women’s Amateur in 2016.
In Florida with Daytona State, St-Germain continued to shine. She tied for 3rd at the National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA) Championships in 2017 – helping her team win a group title –and then tied for 1st place in 2018 as Daytona State claimed another team championship.
After moving up to play in the NCAA with Arkansas, she played in six events in two seasons on a team that was routinely highly ranked and received its share of national attention.
“I think my entire college career feels like a special moment or highlight really,” St-Germain said in reflection. “One of my favourite tournaments was the Annika Intercollegiate in Minnesota. It was a lot of fun and had a lot of great teams.”
It was at the Annika this past season where St-Germain reached her personal best finish at the NCAA level by placing in 11th.
After being away from home due to the travel demands of her golf career and subsequently because of the COVID-19 pandemic as well, St-Germain is looking forward to re-rooting herself in Ottawa.
“Right now, I have my head set on coaching in the future,” St-Germain said. “I had such a great time in golf that the coaching side really appeals to me with mentoring kids through the tournament world. My plan so far is to go in to coaching further down the road.”
There’s no doubt in MacDonald’s mind as to what St-Germain has accomplished on the course and he’s confident in her future helping others to the same success.
“She’s done it all playing golf,” he said. “She’s going to continue to play competitively I’m sure, but now she’s got a little different route to take. I think she’s going to be an outstanding instructor and teacher.”