It’s realistic to expect good news when the National Allied Golf Association reveals the findings of its economic impact study – which will illustrate the effects of the game on tourism, employment, etc. – in just a few weeks.
Assuming they are positive, those numbers will be a foundation for golf to stand on and get noticed by various levels of government on different issues the way that the U.S. golf industry got its message across to Congress during National Golf Day earlier this week.
If that is the case, perhaps the game won’t be ignored by the federal government as it was when various associations tried to get a clarification on whether golf facilities are eligible for Recreational Infrastructure (RInC) funding made available in the recent budget.
As mentioned here yesterday, golf needs an effective lobbyist or lobby group working on its behalf with all levels of government and numbers that illustrate that the game provides an economic stimulus, especially in this economy, is an effective weapon for anyone working on behalf of the industry.
What will make that weapon ineffective is arrogance, which can creep in subconsciously if the cards seem to be working in your favour, which might be the case with a glowing economic impact statement.
First of all, golf has been acknowledged as the largest participation sport in this country, so given that lofty title, why is it that golf has apparently been shut out in the RInC funding? The answer, from this side of the computer, is its perception by the general public of being a game for rich, white males.
Perception is reality and, especially in Canada, if you’re seen as the country club set throwing its weight around, governments will distance themselves, especially in these troubled times when CEOs and other executives have received negative publicity for bloated salaries and bonuses despite underachieving companies.
Whether this image of golf is true or not isn’t the argument for today.
Most of us know friends of modest means who love the game, but that isn’t the picture painted on issues such as pesticide use in which the exemption of golf courses has been criticized as playgrounds for the rich getting away with something for their own personal pleasure, while others get sick.
Painting golf this way is a strategic move that plays on the emotions of governments and the media and takes away from other aspects of the argument such as Integrated Pest Management and responsible spraying.
I suspect that this image is the reason why the federal government isn’t clarifying whether or not golf is eligible for the RInC funding. It neither wants to offend a game that so many Canadians play, nor the people who think a basketball court, soccer pitch or other community facility comes first.
Whether this changes when golf is armed with its economic impact statement – again, assuming it’s positive – remains to be seen, but an important factor will be how golf uses this report in its presentations to governments, thus underscoring the importance of who’s using it.
These numbers could be construed by some as golf using its economic clout to curry government favours, when they should be illustrating the positive effect of the game on employment, tourism, etc. It’s a fine line between what’s perceived as arrogance and what’s good for the country as a result of golf.
A positive economic impact report would be good news for golf, but it’s only the first step in making it work for the good of the game. It could all come down to how the report is presented at a critical time.
Golf may be perceived as a rich man’s game, but the bottom line is that it can’t afford to have any hint of arrogance or pretension.