OUR GOLFOMAX 25th ANNIVERSARY TEAM
Our guys (from left to right): Terry Cowan, PGA. Ryan Little, PGA. John (JR) Watson, PGA Head Pro. Dru Lafave, Owner. Jeff Smith, Manager. Gary Graveline, PGA.
Our girls: Chelsea Watson, Tara Lafave, Joanna Lafave, Julia Watson, and super star granddaughter Gwen Bellan.
Missing from photo: Ryan Condon, PGA. Tim Sewter, PGA.
Read staff bios below.
As an indoor golf facility, we want to offer golfers of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to play golf indoors, and have as much fun with their golfing partners as they do when playing outdoors.
We want to make the experience realistic and challenging, and have invested in the best simulator technology on the market developed by Full Swing Golf in California. We strive to maintain our simulators in perfect working order at all times.
Hopefully you will enjoy the results of hitting some great shots. And just like outdoors, you may get frustrated if you hit a poor one. That’s the love-hate relationship most of us have with this great game of golf.
We want our service to be the best. The majority of our staff have substantial experience in the golf industry. Their mandate is to make sure you have a full understanding of how to play on the golf simulators. They must also ensure that you enjoy the atmosphere of our clubhouse, and our food & beverage services.
In addition to the above, we want to provide an excellent facility to practice your game. We also offer PGA lessons through the King Golf Academy operated by our head pro John Watson.
As owner of this business, I have put my heart and soul into trying to make your experience the best possible at all levels. If you have had fun and enjoyed the comradery of your playing partners, I would say we have succeeded. I would like to guarantee good scores, but I have to leave that in your hands.
1995. At the age of 44, owner Dru Lafave was living in Montreal working as an accountant. He came across a small indoor golf centre nearby and tried a round of golf on their Full Swing Golf simulators. He enjoyed it so much that he joined a weekly league.
This experience led him to explore the opportunity of operating his own centre. Having grown up in golf and played competitively, his golf knowledge and business background were very helpful in researching the best products on the market and best location. He determined the Full Swing golf simulators were far superior to any others at the time, and then decided the Ottawa area would be his best bet for a location. Dru moved with his family over the summer, and opened up for business October 14, 1995 on Merivale rd. with a 6,700 sq ft facility.
The Plan. The original business plan was to start with 5 golf simulators and grow to 7, have a hitting net area with 3 stations for practice and lessons, and a small retail section.
Launching the business. We ran various advertising campaigns, including a press release to the media. In mid December 1995, the Ottawa Citizen sent their business writer Burt Hill over to interview Dru. The January 2, 1996 edition of the Citizen carried almost a full-page report on the front of the business section. From that day forward, Golfomax began to run at close to full capacity almost all the time. Avid golfers would call up for a tee time and have to go on waiting lists every day.
Growth. Over the years, with the great demand to play, we added 3 more simulators, bringing us to a total of 10. To do this we had to eliminate the hitting net area and retail all together.
Competition. In the years that followed, many people would come by over the winter and see how busy we were. Some came to view our business as an opportunity for themselves, and opened up to compete against us. This was a challenge, but in the end almost all our competitors failed and went out of business. Their products and service could not compare to ours.
NEW LOCATION. In 2010, after 15 years on Merivale Rd., we found an opportunity to move to our new location on Baxter rd. Reasons included: better rent conditions with slightly more space, better access off the Queensway, and a chance to renovate our facility with a fresh new look and feel. The space also allowed us to add another golf simulator for a total of 11, making us the largest indoor golf facility of its kind in Canada. With Dru’s daughter Tara being a professional Interior Designer, she was instrumental in the design, architectural specifications, and décor of our new facility. The overwhelming response has been that everyone loves our new home. Great job Tara.
GOLFOMAX LOGO. The story behind it.
With the move to Baxter, we decided to change our logo. Here is the story behind it.
My brother Richard Lafave passed away on April 2, 2010 at the age of 54, after a long and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
Richard was an avid golfer, who had the opportunity over the years to play many of the top 100 courses in the world, including several PGA tour courses, and many that have hosted the Majors. In his last year, he visited Augusta National to see the Masters and got a rare invitation to tour the clubhouse and Butler cabin.
When he learned in early 2009 that his cancer condition was terminal with less than a year to go, he made a Bucket List. In addition to special plans with his wife Jane and three children, Chris, Meg and Michael, he had a wish to go on a final golf trip to play many of the British Open courses.
In August 2009, Richard and I, and two of his friends, journeyed to Scotland and England. I had just torn my rotator cuff six weeks earlier and wasn’t sure if I would be able to play, but I had to go. Richard wasn’t sure he would be able to play much either, with his weakening condition and the side effects of the heavy pain medications he was on. But he was going, no matter what.
Well, incredibly, we played 7 rounds in 7 days.
Prestwick, Turnberry, Carnoustie, St. Andrews Old Course, Royal Troon, Royal Lytham & St Annes, and Royal Liverpool.
While on our journey, we took close to 1,000 pictures. I put together a book of about 75 of my favorites to remember my time with Richard, and gave him a copy for Christmas. One of the pictures is of Richard at Turnberry, where Tom Watson had almost won the Open just a month earlier. It was his 54th birthday that day. It’s a picture of him teeing off on a par 3, with the Island of Ailsa Craig in the background. He had a great swing. This was his favorite in the book.
My daughter Joanna created a new logo design from this picture.
Every day now, I am reminded of Richard, with so many wonderful memories.
The GOLFOMAX SENIOR Team
Dru Lafave, Owner.
Dru moved with his family from Montreal to Ottawa in 1995 to start GOLFOMAX. Following more than 20 years working as an accountant (CMA), he found an opportunity to operate his own business in a field that he loved and had experience in.
Dru grew up playing on a 9 hole course in the Laurentians and won several Junior and Men’s Club Championships. He also worked a few summers in the pro shop, and played competitive junior golf at the provincial level.
When Dru decided to open up GOLFOMAX in 1995, he took a golf teaching program with the Canadian Golf Teachers Federation (CGTF). He wanted to be able to give his clients tips to enjoy their golf more, and this led to teaching lessons locally for about 5 years.
Dru joined Greyhawk Golf Club here in Ottawa when it opened in 2002. In the inaugural club event, he shot a course record 67. That rekindled his passion for the game. He gave up his professional teaching work and soon returned to playing competitive amateur golf. He played in many club competitions over the years, winning two Senior Club Championships, many match play events, and earned several top 10 finishes in Men’s club championships.
2004 – Finished 3rd in the Ottawa Citizen 72 hole Amateur Championship with a final round 70 at Eagle Creek.
2005 – Won the OVGA Class A field day at Renfrew Golf Club with a score of 71.
2006 – Won the OVGA Senior Tournament of Champions.
2010 – Won the #1 ranking on Executive Golf Slammer Tour with match play wins in the Fall event at Smuggler’s Glen.
2012 – Won the OVGA Ottawa Valley Golf Association Senior Championship.
2013 – T25 at the Canadian Men’s Senior Championship. 72 hole event held at the Briars Golf club. Nifty 69 in final round. Old guy still has a little golf in him.
2014 – T3 at the Quebec Senior Championship. Played the Canadian Senior at Capilano, BC. Missed the cut. Bummer ;(
2015 / 16 – Played Canadian Seniors in Medicine Hat and Niagara falls. Made the cut, but nothing too spectacular.
2017 – Kanata Golf Club: Won the Senior Club Championship, Gross Match Play Championship, and Net Senior Match Play Championship. Old guy still has a little Game.
2018 – Kanata Golf Club: Won the 2 Man Gross Better Ball 36 hole Championship with partner Wayne Mountford. Won the season long Men’s Night LMRCC league 2 Man Net Match Play Championship with partner Richard Getz. Fun times.
Jeff Smith, Manager. 20+ year employee!
Jeff began work at Golf-O-Max as a co-op student in 1997. After completing High School, he started to work for us full time. He gradually took on more responsibilities over the years and has become Owner Dru Lafave’s right hand man. Jeff is sometimes called “MacGyver” because of his uncanny ability to find efficient solutions to fixing any kind of problems.
2018 was a special year for Jeff. He married Sarah and they had a little baby girl Charlotte.
Jeff grew up playing junior golf at Poplar Grove, and competed in junior club and OVGA events. He became a member at Greyhawk Golf Club and finished 4th in the 2011 Club Championship. He likes to spend more time these days on his boat fishing, and now with Sarah and Charlotte.
John (JR) Watson, PGA, Director of Golf. 18+ year employee!
JR joined Golf-O-Max in 2001.
He grew up playing his junior golf at Larimac, another 9 hole course, and over the years held memberships at Tecumseh, Champlain, Eagle Creek, Hautes Plaines, and Camelot, winning several of their club championships.
JR worked many years in the financial sector and teaching finance at Algonquin. His passion for golf led to a position as General Manager at Eagle Creek, and then he decided to turn professional in 2000, becoming a PGA of Canada Class A member.
His professional bio includes:
✓ Associate teaching professional at Eagle Creek and Edelweiss golf clubs.
✓ Teaching engagements in the U.S., Cuba and Jamaica.
✓ Winner of Ottawa CPGA Spring Open, and several Pro-Am events,
✓ Offers teaching and coaching programs for players of all ages and skill levels through King Golf Academy and kinggolf.ca
✓ 2014: Won 2 Ottawa zone Senior (getting old at 50) PGA championships.
✓2016: Won PGA Ottawa Zone Summer Open Senior Division, Senior Zone Championship, and Senior Player of the Year!
✓ 2017: Won PGA Ottawa Zone Summer Open Senior Championship.
✓ 2018: Won PGA Ottawa Zone Pro Pro 2 Man Senior with Dave Kalil.
Ryan Little, PGA.
Ryan has worked part time for several years. He is currently Director of Golf at Eagle Creek Golf Club.
Born in Toronto, Ryan was introduced to the game when he was 10 years old at Pike Lake Golf Club. He began working with Clublink Corporation at Cherry Downs Golf Club in 1992. In 1996 he moved to Ottawa to do his studies at the University of Ottawa. During these years he played for the Ottawa U Gee Gee golf team competing in many championship golf events across the province. He became a certified golf professional in 2005 and obtained his PGA Class A status in 2011.
Ryan has 25+ years of experience working in the golf industry in areas such as proshop, golf service, teaching, turf maintenance, corporate merchandising, corporate and member events.
Ryan makes his home in Manotick with his wife Jennifer and young son Dawson.
Gary Graveline, PGA.
Great News! Gary won the Ottawa Zone 2019 Class A Professional of the Year award! Gary joined the Golfomax team in December 2016. He is an Associate Professional at Camelot Golf & Country Club, and formerly assistant professional at the Landings Golf Club and Teaching Centre. He teaches a wide variety of skill levels through private lessons as well as junior and member clinics.
Gary was introduced to the game by his dad and grandfather when he was 8 years old. He was encouraged to play competitive junior golf, and with gradual success, he realized he wanted to have a career in the golf industry. He attended Georgian College in Barrie and graduated with honors with a degree in Professional Golf Management, and turned professional in 2012.
Terry Cowan, PGA.
Terry joined the Golfomax team in January 2017. He is an Associate Professional at Eagle Creek Golf Club, and formerly an assistant pro at the Canadian Golf and Country Club in Ashton Ontario. He turned professional in 2016 after working in the industry for two years while going through school.
Terry is an Ottawa native who got a late start in golf. After beginning to play the game regularly at the age of 14, he fell in love with it and has never looked back since. He graduated from Nipissing University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Physical and Health Education. He is looking to teach the importance of fitness in golf while growing his teaching resume.
Tim Sewter, PGA.
Tim is a return employee. He worked for us one season around 2002, and came back starting in our 2014/15 season, and continues with us on a part time basis.
Tim grew up in Arnprior where he developed a passion for the game of golf as a young junior. In 2000 he joined the PGA of Canada while working at Mountain Creek Golf Club. In 2001 and 2002, he worked at Renfrew Golf Club as an Assistant Pro. Since 2003, Tim has worked at Rideau View Golf Club where he still currently works as an associate golf professional. He is also a 2 time nominee for the PGA Ottawa zone assistant pro of the year.
Tim is also TPI certified. TPI is the Titleist Performance Institute, where certified professionals assess your golf fitness handicap and recommend fitness training programs to help improve your ability to play golf. These include strength, flexability, rotational power, and endurance. Interesting stuff.
Chelsea and Julia Watson.
Chelsea began helping out her dad JR at Golfomax when she was about 10 years old. She would come in with him on Saturday mornings and help serve coffee and other beverages and snacks, and then help clear tables and clean up. Customers were happy to give her generous tips for being such a cute kid. Over the years, she began to do more things, including taking reservations, setting up golfers on the simulators, and checking them out at the cash.
She works part time shifts while attending Carleton University in the Commerce program. She is a former Junior Ladies golf champ at Rivermead, as well as at Immaculata High School, where she was the top graduating athlete. She is a great addition to the team, and often out does her dad in attending to our customers’ needs. lol
Recently, younger sister Julia, started working part time as well. We expect she will progress up the ranks like her sister.
Joanna Lafave. (Dad’s favorite oldest daughter)
Joanna has worked part time for us from time to time almost from the beginning.
She is a Graphic Design Artist. In her spare time, she produces all our Golf-O-Max marketing literature. She also played junior golf at Beaconsfield Golf Club in Montreal for a few years. She is a busy mom, looking after her 10 year old daughter Gwen, who is developing into a very nice golfer with some guidance from her Grampa Dru.
Tara Lafave. (Dad’s favorite youngest daughter)
Tara has worked part time almost from the beginning, and is involved in just about all the aspects of the business.
She is an Interior Designer. She was instrumental in the architectural specifications, design and décor of our new location on Baxter Rd. The overwhelming response has been that everyone loves our new home. Great job Tara.
Gwen Bellan, (Grampa’s favorite only granddaughter)
Eleven year old Gwen is becoming a pretty good golfer, thanks in part to tips from grampa over the last few years.
She has now started to help out at the Max when her mom Joanna works a shift. The staff recently nominated her “Employee of the Month” 😉