Golf is king in Canada

Study concludes sport has massive impact on national economy

It was already known that golf is No. 1 in Canada when it comes to participation in a recreational activity.

Now, based on an economic impact study a year in the making, the National Allied Golf Associations (NAGA) knows just how big it is.

Golf accounted for an estimated $11.3 billion of Canada’s gross domestic product in 2008, nearly one per cent of the national total. That included 341,794 jobs nationally.

Nearly six million golfers in Canada played an estimated 70 million rounds last year, down about 10 per cent from the previous five-year average largely because of poor weather.

In Manitoba, the study showed golf contributed $452.7 million towards the province’s GDP of $41.2 billion in 2008, and the industry was responsible for 18,025 jobs.

NAGA is the combined efforts of the Canadian PGA, golf course owners, superintendents, club managers, the Canadian Tour, the golf industry and the RCGA and it released its findings on Tuesday after Strategic Networks Group Inc., compiled them. Six months of fieldwork began in August a year ago and included interviews with more than 4,000 golfers and 350 golf courses.

The sample sizes provided Strategic Networks Group a large degree of confidence in its results, vice-president Thomas McGuire said.

The study showed major economic impact generated by golf. For example:

“ö Total direct sales from the Canadian Golf industry was $13.6 billion.

“ö Of that, revenue generated by courses, their facilities and stand-alone driving ranges was $4.7 billion, nearly the same as all other participation sports and recreation facilities combined ($4.8 billion), and far more than spectator sports which include the NHL ($2.4 billion). What will all the numbers mean?

It’s hard to say, NAGA chair Steve Carroll, the executive director of the Canadian PGA said Tuesday.

“Golf in Canada has been presented with an up-to-date, reliable set of facts and figures,” Carroll said. “The opportunity now exists for all Canadian golf stakeholders to take this information and utilize it in support of their contribution to the Canadian golf economy.”

Carroll said the association members will take a short time to contemplate the numbers, then get together again to try to brainstorm future strategies to improve their lot.

Jeff Calderwood, CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association, already has a few things in mind.

“If I was going to put my finger on one thing that rises to the top that I think is good and transcends to the entire industry, it would be our ability to lobby government more effectively,” Calderwood said during a national conference call on Tuesday. “Government advocacy is a huge and growing-every-year detriment to this industry.”

He said he currently has a binder of 28 different issues that golf course owners and municipal, provincial and federal governments are butting heads on, from water to taxes.

“It’s hard for any industry to fight government, but even harder when you have an industry that hadn’t risen to the level where you have credibility and follow it up with facts,” Calderwood said, noting golf has simply always settled for claims that it’s “big,” or “important.”

“Now we have facts to back it up, give us ability defend against everything from a municipal pesticide bylaw to a provincial HST issue to the federal level where golf is not allowed as a business entertainment expense,” he said. “Increased expenses cause prices to go up and that’s detrimental to growing the game.”

Calderwood said the study won’t simply erase those issues.

“Our ability to take on those challenges will not be easy but they will get easier with this information,” he said.

Harry Brotchie, master professional, former president of the Canadian PGA and president of Lakeland Golf Management, which operates eight courses in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, said last night the study was no simple document.

“At first glance, I wonder what we’ll do with all these numbers,” Brotchie said. “I’m always a little nervous on numbers until I’ve had a chance to digest them.

“But based on Jeff’s comments today, I think this study might be beneficial if it’s helpful to the NGCOA in representing the course owners in a variety of issues.”

Famous people of Manitoba

Crossfire Consulting