Golf praised in study

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

One of the more satisfying aspects of golf being recommended for the Olympics is that decision-makers didn't buy into the stereotypes that were spewed out by those who protested its inclusion on several grounds, one being that it's an elitist game.

That reputation was built on golf's image as a country club sport, which it is for many, and the game has been known to be elitist over the years and still is in some quarters. Affordability is also an issue that keeps people out, but let's turn the tables and see how many people it includes instead of excludes.

MORE PARTICIPATION

Golf enjoys more participation than any other recreational activity in Canada, a point that its critics failed to bring up prior to the Olympic recommendation, so if you follow their logic, then every other sport and pastime in this country must be even more elitist.

Another criticism that came out was that golf doesn't appeal to young people. Perhaps, they should take a look at the youngsters who may comprise the Canadian golf contingent for the 2016 Olympics.

Has anyone ever heard of Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., Matt Hill of Bright's Grove, Ont., Dustin Risdon of Calgary or Cam Burke of New Hamburg, Ont.?

On the women's side, check out Jennifer Kirby of Paris, Ont., Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., Stephanie Sherlock of Barrie, Canadian PGA champ Jessica Shepley of Oakville, or Maude-Aimee Leblance of Sherbrooke, Que., among others, to see a pretty good Olympic team in waiting.

The International Olympic Committee didn't get suckered by the rhetoric and went with a game that is played around the world and is not the socially irresponsible sport that some have painted it. The IOC decision helped debunk those myths as did an economic impact study released last week.

I've never been one to take the findings of polls as gospel, but given that golf is the highest participation sport in the land and that Canada has one of the largest participation rates per capita in the world, it only makes sense that the game has a huge economic impact, with social benefits.

The Strategic Networks Group Inc., which conducted the economic impact study last year for the National Allied Golf Associations, says there is just a small margin of error to their findings.

It found golf accounts for $11.3-billion of Canada's Gross Domestic Product, including 341,794 jobs, $7.6-billion in household income, $1.2-billion in property and other taxes and $1.9-billion in income taxes.

GENERATES BILLIONS

Golf generates an estimated $29.4-billion in total spending, while the total direct sales for the industry is $13.6-billion, including $4.7-billion directly from golf courses, facilities, and driving ranges, about the same as all other participation sports/recreation facilities combined. Each year, there are at least 25,000 charitable events at Canadian golf courses that raise more than $439-million.

About the only worrisome part of that study was that there was a 10% decline in rounds played in 2008. Despite that serious concern the numbers add up to way more than the critics could throw its way.


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