PGA REACH New England is excited to continue its spotlight series dedicated to sharing the goodwill and support of local communities by our PGA Professionals. Chipping In trumpets the story of individual PGA Professionals and his or her efforts to differentiate their facility and personal PGA Brand within the community. This month, we share the story of Steve Gonsalves, PGA of The Kwini Club.
Steve Gonsalves, PGA
The Kwini Club
SG: I began playing golf at the age of 3 at Kwiniaska Golf Club in Shelburne, Vermont. Played golf in high school and college. Then I registered in the PGA Apprentice program as an Assistant Golf Professional at Burlington Country Club. Upon receiving my Class A PGA membership in 1996, I joined Tater Hill Country Club in Chester, Vermont as the Head Golf Professional. My career has taken me to Palm Beach, Hunters Run in Boynton Beach, Admirals Cove in Jupiter, Florida and I’m most proud to be a member of the Vermont Chapter of the New England PGA for 33 years. Now I’m back in Shelburne, Vermont as owner of The Kwini Club practice facility for the past five years.
Is there a personal cause or goal you would like to bring attention to?
Having the ability to practice golf year-round in Vermont is so important. Proudly, our practice facility provides that opportunity to the local community; The Kwini Club. This is the first club in Vermont to introduce Toptracer Range and The Power Tee. For our industry, technology should be at the forefront and keeping up with the latest tools to achieve our student’s goals in golf and on course, while having fun doing it. I’ve got a little entrepreneurial spirit in me. For the past 14 years I have owned and operated Gonzo’s HD Sports in South Burlington, Vermont. We have eight golf simulators, PGA professionals offering lessons and a PGA Junior winter league which is super fun. Gonzo’s allows me to promote golf all 12 months in Vermont and it’s awesome! Love to keep my junior golfers going through the winter months.
What is the name of the organization or program you would like to highlight?
I try to get involved with things I know, so Junior Golf has always been my passion and being able to support it in various ways leads to new connections, new partnerships and the ongoing friendships created are priceless. I became involved with the Stephen J. Brown Junior Golf Foundation 33 years ago and over the years, we have raised over $300,000 to distribute in scholarships, junior programs in golf communities and golf camps.
What is the most rewarding thing about giving back to the community?
Being able to help and give back is powerful. Knowing that our sport can be a catalyst for fundraising to help programs and then be able to have them enjoy the sport of golf at the same time . Sharing my love for golf and knowing that the opportunities that we might create with clinics, tournaments, facility use is very rewarding. This grows the game tremendously, which is important to me.
What other organizations do you support?
We also work with Warriors Soar. Shannon Blake, Vermont Chapter President, approached me five years ago to be a part of this program supporting our veterans. We offer indoor golf clinics at Gonzo’s and at The Kwini Club practice facility and we always support their annual golf tournament. We also work with our equipment representatives to get clubs donated for the vets.
How has giving back to the community helped to raise awareness to your facility?
People are generous in their recognition of our facility and word of mouth. But I don’t do it for that reason.
How do you determine which charities to support?
There are so many worthy organizations. I try to work with those that I am familiar with and have worked with or through the golf community. Giving back is the ultimate rush, when you can help people in need and watch them smile and have fun playing golf.
Any recommendations on how someone can start to support their community?
Always listen and keep an open mind.