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Economic Impact of Golf

Courtesy of CGSA's Greenmaster, November/December, 2009

The release of the golf industry economic impact study (EIS) on August 14, 2009 marked the beginning of a new era in Canadian golf. Far from being the culmination of a process, the release of the report was the beginning of a course of action deliberately taken in order to bring clarity to both the business and the impact components of golf in the Canadian economy.

The study, which was conducted by the Strategic Networks Group out of Ottawa on behalf of the National Allied Golf Associations (NAGA),was released at a Canadian Golf Hall of Fame media conference in mid-August 2009. Although NAGA has yet to release its plans relative to the use of the study, several of the study findings are intriguing: • Golf accounts for $11.3billion of Canada's gross domestic product; • Golf results in over 341,000 jobs in Canada; • $7.6 billion in household income in Canada comes from golf; • Golf generates $1.9 billion in income tax revenues for the Federal and Provincial governments; Over $29 billion in total gross production (direct, indirect and induced spending) results from golf in Canada; Direct sales account for $13.6 billion and, of that, golf courses and driving ranges generate $4.7 billion which is only $0.1 billion Less than the sales generated by all other participation sports and recreation facilities combined in Canada, and; Golf courses earn more operating revenue annually than all "spectator sports" (including the NHL) and all promoters of performing arts and sports combined in Canada. The above noted facts represent only a few of the many findings in the 27-page, "Findings Report" issued in August. These will be discussed and debated by many government departments, company think tanks and golf industry business professionals over the near future as they grapple to see what they can discern from the SNG data.

From my standpoint, here are just some of the possible' impacts for the golf course management sector as we move forward: Greater recognition of the value of research and innovation as a way of sustaining this multi-billion dollar industry. If the economic impact report can "encourage" golfers, tourism agencies, economic development officials and governments at all levels to invest in golf related research to help sustain, improve and enhance the already desirable environmental and other community related impacts of golf in the community, it would be money well invested; Staff salary levels - golf competes with a wide variety of other industry sectors for both skilled and general laborer positions. The ability to attract sufficient numbers of staff and appropriately skilled staff, particularily in the position of equipment technician, which is critical to maintaining quality golf courses, will be significantly diminished if salary levels do not keep pace. Any inability to attract skilled individuals throughout the golf workforce could create a downward spiral that will adversely affect golf's overall economic performance.

Recognition of environmental integrity: The EIS will not stop the kind of rhetoric used by those that deem themselves to be environmental activists. What it will hopefully help us to accomplish is to convince politicians of all stripes and at all levels and in sufficient numbers to understand is that golf is a business. Like many other businesses, it sometimes needs to be regulated. That regulation should be based on sound science and fact rather than hyperbole and fiction. Course Maintenance is an interesting dilemma for owners, general managers and others in the industry. Ensuring that maintenance practices and the related budgets aren't completely decimated and that those involved in making financial decisions understand the connection between the EIS results, the bottom line results at their own golf course and the overall status of maintenance budgets is terribly important. Will the EIS released in August of '09 change the perception of the importance of the golf course to the success of the business? We only hope that it will and that future golf industry leaders will commit to protecting the business, the golf courses and the environment through their annual investment in golf course management.