Locally-produced show to debut on TSN
Haliburton’s role in bringing show to life huge, says director and host
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | March 20, 2017
The small community of Lajitas, Texas, resonated so much with Haliburton’s Wayde Greer, a self-admitted homebody that he began to envision himself retiring in the small border town.
This self-discovery took place while shooting Highways to Fairways, a passion-project he shared with a few determined locals highlighting unique and affordable golf courses and the cultures surrounding it.
The show, whose target audience is the 90 per cent of golfers who can’t break 90, took Greer, Charlie Teljeur and a small camera crew across 13 golf courses in North America.
It's been almost 10 years in the making, and on March 30, will debut on TSN.
Greer admits driving a working Sherman tank from the Second World War was a thrill, but Lajitas stood out the most.
“It was the first time in my life I was able to visualize where I could end up as an old man one day,” Greer said, adding a breathtaking golf course, located a stone’s throw from the town, crosses over to Mexico on hole 15.
It’s these types of moments that have stuck with Greer, Teljeur and the rest of the crew during the show’s production, in addition to meeting the various “local legends” inhabiting these communities.
Viewers will discover who these legends are during the show, but Teljeur smiled and said he was able to try on a Super Bowl ring during one of these encounters.
While describing the long journey that began in 2008, Teljeur’s excitement was palpable.
“There was a lot of personal growth on this journey,” he said, while recalling the show’s initial form as a straightforward golf show.
It lacked a clear identity early on, he said, pointing to the absence of storytelling and culture sampling.
They had travelled to various golf courses across the country and their proof of concept series received some airtime on TVTropolis and Fox Sportsworld Canada in 2011.
But they also needed more resources.
That gap was filled a few years later with the help of Digital Reno, a storytelling agency based out of Toronto with an office in Haliburton County, and Sticks and Stones Productions.
With their support and production chops, and help from the Haliburton County Development Corporation, they revitalized the show and pitched it to TSN.
The sports channel liked what it saw and gave them a primetime slot.
Digital Reno president James Roy said Teljeur and Greer are the show’s biggest draw.
“They’re unique, a couple of small town guys who play off each other very well,” he said. “The show always had this unique idea, and was specifically aimed at the bulk of golfers who don’t do well and don’t play to win. They play because they enjoy the social aspects of the game.”
Greer echoed Roy’s thoughts about the show, and pointed to recent drop-offs in TV ratings and golf equipment sales, attributing them to a lack of diverse voices representing the golf industry in mainstream media.
According to the National Golf Foundation, there’s been a 30 per cent decline in the number of golfers aged 18-34 over the last 20 years.
“We wanted to finally give a voice to people in the golf industry nobody wanted to talk to,” he said.
Highways to Fairways will not only appeal to the average golfer, but can be enjoyed by anyone interested in different cultures.
“Along the way, we find out more about these local legends … sample some of the local activities … it all provides a very interesting backdrop to the game of golf,” Roy said.
Greer said the crew had no intention of bringing the show back to life unless it got the attention of a broadcast company like TSN.
“What this tells us, with a primetime spot, is that they liked the show,” Greer said. “They’re not going to put a show up that they don’t think has potential.”
A total of 14 people worked on the show, all of them from Haliburton.
“This idea is being presented to the world because of Haliburton,” Teljeur said.
McKeck's Tap and Grill will host a viewing party March 30 during the show’s debut on TSN, which starts at 9:30 p.m.
Director of Photography
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.