national golf day

National Golf Day highlights upwards trajectory, excitement across Canada

national golf day photo op in front of parliament

OTTAWA – Jeff Calderwood has been part of the business side of Canada’s golf industry for three decades and even he admits the enthusiasm and excitement from the grass-roots level all the way up the game’s ladder has hit never-before-seen levels.

The latest Canadian Golf Economic Impact study was published Thursday, combined with a return to Parliament Hill for a half-dozen of the game’s key stakeholders for National Golf Day.

The buzz was back.

“(The numbers) were basically record highs. And everyone is in a fun mood,” said Calderwood, the CEO of Canada’s National Golf Course Owners Association and chairman of the National Allied Golf Association.

If Calderwood had to pick one key number it would be the bumped-up GDP figure – up 30 percent in the five years since the last Economic Impact Study was conducted in 2019 to just over $23 billion.

That figure is an “eye-opener” for politicians and the like, Calderwood explained, because of how positive it was.

“(The day on Parliament Hill) was the first one since the COVID-19 pandemic, which is meaningful in itself,” Calderwood said. “Golf is good for Canada. It’s good for Canadians.”

Calderwood, as the leader of a collection of small business owners, is quick to point out that while the golf industry is in a good place that’s “not to be confused with Easy Street.” Nothing’s easy when it comes to small business.

“There are so many people who work in this industry, including myself, who don’t really understand the tangential opportunity and business that exists within golf,” said Suzanne Godbehere, the CEO of the Club Management Association of Canada. “There is the economic side of things and the people who work in food and beverage and more. The golf clubs are more like small cities that get operated.

Like with any small business, the future remains uncertain. But post-COVID, the game held on to approximately two-thirds of the massive participation bump it received in the immediate tracking years of 2020 and 2021 according to Calderwood. Six million Canadians played golf in 2023 (for a total of 74-million rounds) making it the country’s largest participation sport. And golf, as an industry, hits on plenty of key topics that politicians care about – youth employment, charity, the environment, and more.

“We gave an update on numbers and built relationships with key parliamentarians – you have the respect you’re a serious industry,” Calderwood said. “When you point out how much is paid in taxes or how many people you employ across the country, they treat you now as a serious industry as well as a great game.”


Golf Canada’s CEO, Laurence Applebaum, has had a front-row seat to plenty of the game’s biggest moments over the last half-decade and while he’s first to acknowledge that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our day-to-day life was difficult and disturbing, the trickle-down effect on golf highlighted how much the game was ideally suited as safe and operationally strong.

“The GDP impact, the economic force golf is for employment, for stimuli, for tourism, for the environment, and for charity – with dollars-raised returning to pre-pandemic levels – has been amazing to track,” Applebaum said.

One of the key things Canadian golf’s stakeholders were able to learn through the COVID-19 pandemic was the continued relationship with all levels of governments (including international governments) and now they’ve been able to come back to Parliament Hill to talk about the perception of golf and educate beyond just sport.

Applebaum said one conversation Thursday was with a member of parliament from Saskatchewan who, prior to joining politics was a teaching professional. Another, from Ontario, learned the game from his grandfather.

“We have all these friends of golf that want to be part of this crazy growth we have right now,” Applebaum said. “We are so excited about the trajectory and the state of the game – and now to keep things on that track.”