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Swinging clubs to hammers: How a golf pro’s home renos inspired his program choice at Okanagan College

It’s easy to say that Greg Forbes went from looking for a hole in one, to drilling several holes in many.
After growing up playing golf in Oakville, Forbes earned a golf scholarship to study at Coastal 

Greg Forbes is swinging hammers not just golf clubs these days

Carolina University, playing at storied courses at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. He completed his Bachelor of Business Science degree with a major in marketing, returning to Canada to tee off a career with retail giant Golf Town that ultimately brought him to Kelowna.

“I had been opening stores across Ontario, and the opportunity came up to move to Kelowna. I couldn’t resist,” he recalls. 

He began taking the game more seriously and created a name for himself. At one time, he was ranked in the top 100 in Canada for amateur golfers and played in the Canadian Amateur Golf Championship three times. Forbes eventually earned his pro card and began playing a lot of PGA of BC events, especially on the Interior Tour. 

“It was a goal I had to see if I had what it takes to turn pro, and see if you can make some money doing it. I did it,” Forbes says, adding that that achievement was enough for him. “Those guys on TV are a special breed. I found that out a few years ago.”

In 2013, he shifted energies more to the game, joining Black Mountain Golf Club as a PGA Golf Professional. “You’re doing something you love and coaching people. It’s great,” he says.

On the home-front, his family bought 1979 fixer-upper that needed upgrades – even though Forbes was more into golf tees than TLC.

“I’ve never been a handy person at all,” he chuckles, adding that they hired a Red Seal carpenter friend to do some renovations. “I watched and learned, helped out where I could. But here I am in my 40s, and I found I kind of liked working on the house. I thought, why not try carpentry?”

Last August, he signed up for the Carpenter Foundation program, thrown into a completely foreign world filled with tools, supplies and machinery.

“I did not handle a circular saw until I stepped into the class,” he says. “It’s amazing to see how comfortable I am now, only a few months later, handling tools. It is so satisfying completing projects and knowing that I did that.”

Hands-on learning helped Forbes refine those newfound skills. He helped pour a concrete pad behind the Trades Training Complex in Kelowna, renovate the tool room, as well as convert a shipping container into a mobile library to benefit Niteo Africa Society’s work establishing literacy centres in Uganda.

Those experiences transformed Forbes into a confident tradesperson who is up to speed with his classmates – many of whom were right out of high school or came from families with carpentry backgrounds.

“What the other students can do is amazing, some of them have been around carpentry since they were little. But I bring a dynamic that keeps everyone pretty loose and we all work together really well,” he says. 

Forbes is on course to write the final exam at the end of February, and hopes to work alongside Red Seal Carpenter in addition to working the links this summer. With enough hours, he could become eligible to register for Level 2 of the apprenticeship program by next winter.

“My wife always asks me, ‘Did you enjoy it?’ and I come home with a smile on my face every day. I just love learning new things,” Forbes says.

For information about the Carpenter Foundation program, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/carpentry.