One nation; One Vision

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To use a nautical metaphor, when a ship is in troubled waters, everyone must row in unison to propel it to its ultimate destination. That’s golf’s philosophical equivalent of One Vision.

As succinctly stated in Golf Canada’s message at its recent annual general meeting, One Vision (you can see the details here) aspires “to ensure golf maintains its status as the most popular sport in Canada.”

Golf Canada readily acknowledges it cannot do this on its own. Continuing the metaphor (… to steady the ship, to maintain course …), the association, named in 2006 by the federal government as the game’s National Sport Federation, needs every stakeholder—every golfer, for that matter—on board, pulling together.

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“We are all golf,” says Golf Canada CEO Scott Simmons. “If we are going to move the game continuously forward, we have to be aligned. When we are aligned on a common vision, we can accomplish great things and achieve maximum potential through that synergy.”

Great strides have been made to achieve that alignment. The establishment of the National Allied Golf Associations (NAGA) ( brought together all the major stakeholders: Golf Canada, the PGA of Canada, the National Golf Course Owners Association of Canada, the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association, the Canadian Society of Club Managers and the Canadian Golf Industry Association. Partnerships have extended to the PGA TOUR of Canada and others. Each represents its own distinct constituency of the game, but, theoretically, shares a common vision: The viability of the most popular sport in the country.

And now their challenge is to all pull together. With “One Vision.”

“There has never been greater trust and transparency among everyone who has a stake in golf in Canada,” says Simmons. “We all have a responsibility to protect the game, to advance the game, to be ambassadors for the game, to be held accountable to grow our sport.”

So Golf Canada’s focus is not just “Golf Canada.” It is “golf in Canada.”

The association has exponentially evolved from 1895, when Golf Canada’s precursor, the Royal Canadian Golf Association, was founded by 10 clubs. Its purpose, according to Jim Barclay’s Golf in Canada: A History, was to organize “a national championship [the Canadian Amateur] and run it.” The RCGA’s mandate grew over the years, but fundamentally it dealt with men’s amateur golf, rules, handicapping, course rating, amateur status, and so on.

Amalgamation with the Canadian Ladies’ Golf Association in 2005 foreshadowed a much broader purview, a more inclusive perspective concerned with not only club members, but everyone who plays the game. (A radically new membership model, to be phased in over the next three years, is the latest commitment to this.)

A revised governance model invited a broader spectrum of input to Golf Canada. In contrast to the previous situation, where Board members worked their way to the top through the provincial associations, the Board now also invites select individuals, based on their varied backgrounds and expertise. No better example exists than current Golf Canada President Paul McLean. Not only does he work within the golf industry, but he is a course owner, a member of the National Golf Course Owners Association as well as the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association.

Starting several years ago, Golf Canada saw the necessity of an industry-wide strategic plan, essential not only under its mandate as golf’s designated National Sport Federation, but in its ever-evolving role as a guardian, a champion, of the game.

One Vision, the latest iteration of that strategic plan as presented at Golf Canada’s annual general meeting, contains four silos:

Grow Participation: Engage more youth, promote societal benefits and develop a connection with more golfers, increase access for under-represented groups

Ensure Excellence: Implement programming for high-performance juniors, Team Canada and emerging professionals; develop coaches and certified professionals; host best-in-class national and international championships

Expand Capacity: Develop sustainable funding and fiscal responsibility; uphold and preserve rules, handicapping, course rating, amateur status, and the history of the game; provide opportunity and training for volunteers and staff

Foster Interaction: Collaborate with provincial golf associations, facilities, NAGA, government and international partners; increase capabilities in digital and interactive technology; strengthen communication and brand awareness.

“One Vision is easier said than done,” says Simmons, “but it’s not about one organization doing all of this on its own.

“It’s about all of us aligning to protect the game we all care about. It’s about doing all we can do, together, to grow it for everyone, now and for the future.”

Pulling together.

At no time in the history of the game in this country has it been more important. If you care about the game, grab an oar.