It seems as if the past few weeks, the old standby of Canada having the highest number of golfers per capita in the world has come up frequently at various functions I’ve attended.
To be honest with you, I’m not even sure that this claim isn’t outdated, but even if it is still true, all it does is supply enough hot air for us to momentarily puff our chests and look good when there are more serious problems that need fixing internally.
It’s a spiffy paint job at a time when somebody needs to look under the hood.
Is it not worth wondering why Darren Clarke became the third Northern Irishman in a little over a year to win a major with his triumph at the British Open, when Canada didn’t have one player in the field? The last I looked, Northern Ireland didn’t have close to the population that we have here.
While many star-struck observers of the game use the PGA Tour as the ultimate measuring stick of a country, the fact is that tour representation is a cyclical thing.
Yet, if we are such a thriving country as far as numbers go, wouldn’t you think the next great Canadian player is on deck in a situation similar to Northern Ireland, where that country’s major champs from the past year include one in his 20s (Rory McIlroy), one in his 30s (Graeme McDowell) and one in his 40s (Clarke)?
The thing about our high percentage of golfers is that they are not enough to sustain the golf courses we have with the number that have gone into receivership lately, or the ones that are struggling with often-vacant fairways and greens.
A good portion of that 5-to-6-million Canadians who do play golf are baby boomers, which means that number will start to decrease as the population ages, with no indication that we are growing the game among younger people.
That means that the economic impact of the game from a study conducted by the National Allied Golf Associations will diminish, if it hasn’t already after the research was done in 2008 before the economic downturn took place.
The cure for what ails the golf industry is not a sugar-coated placebo that merely tastes good. The tonic may be a bitter pill to swallow, but that won’t happen if we’re too busy crowing about how great we are.
It’s Northern Ireland’s time to crow, not Canada’s.