Inside Golf House

Reason to be thankful

Highland Country Club (Claus Andersen/ Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada)

The health of the game in this country relies on a myriad of factors, most notably, a commitment to put the golfer’s interests above all else. With the golfer in mind, I am sincerely thankful to the many organizations and individuals that drive the success of golf in Canada.

That gratitude starts with the 5.7 Canadians who play 60 million rounds of golf annually. Consumers make tough decisions with how to spend their recreational dollars. Golf as a sport is fortunate to have a strong base of loyal customers and casual enthusiasts that enjoy the game at 2,346 facilities from coast to coast.

Being a customer-centric business means listening to the golfer and searching for innovative ways to create meaningful engagement. It’s encouraging when golfers share their passion for the game. I’m just as appreciative of the customers who share constructive criticism. It means they care and are willing to hold the golf industry accountable.

To the 3,700 PGA of Canada professionals who represent the frontline of our industry—thank you for committing to the golfer through instruction and program delivery at the club level; for helping avid golfers, new enthusiasts, lifelong members, families and juniors get the most out of their golf experiences.

A tip of the cap goes out to the golf course superintendents who put in extremely long days to deliver a golf experience that balances playability, enjoyment and sustainability. Meeting and exceeding golfer expectations can seem insurmountable and I have a tremendous respect for the commitment of maintenance staff that are so much more than experts in growing grass.

Golf is big business. To the course operators, manufacturers and member clubs that represent an $11.3 billion impact to the Canadian economy—thank you for underwriting the risk of the Canadian golf industry. For most of us, golf is a game but for operators, club managers and other industry partners with a financial stake in our game, golf is a competitive business uninsulated from economic uncertainty.

No single factor has a greater impact on the game than weather, so a debt of thanks is owed to Mother Nature for shining a kind eye on the 2015 golf season. Conditions in most regions of the country were exceptional, and it showed with 9.8% uptick in rounds played nationally versus 2014 based on Rounds Played and Weather Reporting from the National Golf Course Owners Association Canada. The highest increase in rounds played was Alberta (13.2%), followed by Saskatchewan/Manitoba (8.4%), British Columbia (6.5%), Ontario (6%) and Quebec (5%). The lone dark cloud was an 11. 6% decline in Atlantic Canada based on an extremely late start to the season. Overall it was a season of sunny skies for course operators which fuels great optimism for 2016.

To the 37,000 charity events held annually at golf courses—thank you for leveraging our sport to raise funds in communities across Canada. Each year, more than $533 million in charitable giving is generated through golf and I applaud participants and charity event organizers for being a part of this wonderful story.

To the talented professionals, competitive amateurs, rising stars and legends of Canadian golf—thank you for inspiring us with your play and for showing the world that Canada can be a force on the international golfing stage.

Volunteers have long been the driving force behind golf in this country and enough can’t be said to thank the tens of thousands of individuals that give their time to make the game better. The same is true for the many sponsors and local supporters that align their brands and their businesses with Canadian golf.

Kudos as well to our closest partners—the staff and volunteers at the 10 provincial golf associations with whom we share a vested stake through membership, program delivery, junior golf and player development. I would be remiss if I did not extend a heartfelt thank you to the staff at Golf Canada for their enthusiasm and commitment to both our sport and our association.

Finally—to the individual members and member clubs that Golf Canada has the honour to represent, a most sincere thank you for supporting golf in this country and for sharing in the celebration of this great game.