There has been more than one occasion when I’ve been taken to task for being too negative or not being positive enough about golf’s future.
I don’t get too upset about it because it’s understandable that golf course owners, associations and others who have interests in the game want their product seen as positively as possible. What business doesn’t?
On the other hand, ignoring golf’s challenges is apathy at its worst that leads to the shrugging off of challenges such as pace of play, bringing more juniors and women into the game and affordability, among others.
I’ve been writing about oversaturation of golf courses since the latter half of the 1990s when the game was still booming and that’s one of the topics touched on by Chris Sorensen in this article for Maclean’s.
The topics touched on by Sorensen have been written and discussed for years through various forms of media, both trade and consumer, so there’s really no new insight into what’s happening in this story.
Maybe, it’s not fact until Maclean’s does a story. You decide for yourself.
You also have to wonder about some of Sorensen’s assumptions. For example, the potential sale of York Downs near Toronto is more about business with it sitting on prime land than it is about the state of the game.
This story crosses a line right off the top with the headline Why Canadian golf is dying. That last word is a strong one and definitely has impact, which is the intent.
Is anyone out there planning to administer last rites to golf? Is death not final?
Surely, some golf courses will disappear, but no dirt will be shoveled on the entire game, even if some of its occupants do have their heads in the sand.
There’s no denying that the game has its obstacles, but the same has said over the years about other games such as lacrosse and tennis. Need we point out the buzz that Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic caused last week at Wimbledon?
Golf has also had its peaks and valleys over the years, so to say that the end is near, that something final is coming and golf will just go away is only something that makes cool headlines on a story that delivers nothing new.
Which One Is It?
One of the points in the Maclean’s article that I couldn’t figure out is that in one paragraph, it says that golf courses are lobbying for special treatment by seeking a tax deduction for business expenses at their operations.
Yet, in the next sentence, it says that other entertainment venues are eligible for a deduction, so how is that lobbying for “special treatment?”
These Keeners Prove Otherwise
If golf is dying, somebody forgot to tell the good folks at Wheat City Golf Course, near Brandon, Man.
As GNN recently reported here, 12 of Wheat City’s holes have been covered by water in the flooding that has hit that province recently.
That only means that six holes are still available for play.
High Water Special
Play all day for only $15!
That’s the message on the golf course’s website and players have been doing just that.
Flooding is nothing new to Wheat City, which also felt nature’s wrath during the flood of 2011. It remains to be seen how many golf courses will be affected this year with the ongoing concerns for communities along the Assiniboine River.
Kevin O’Donovan, the National Golf Course Owners Association regional director for the prairies, is currently getting in touch with member clubs.
“We’re letting them know that we’re there to support them and help in any way we can,” said O’Donovan.
Eugenie and Brooke
The more I watched Eugenie Bouchard in her progression to the Wimbledon final last week, the more I thought of 16-year-old Brooke Henderson, who may one day be golf’s equivalent of Bouchard.
Bouchard won the Wimbledon junior title in 2012 and Henderson was low amateur with her tie for 10th at the recent U.S. Women’s Open.
That finish has observers wondering if Henderson will turn pro and forsake her college golf career. Her skills, her momentum, her building confidence and the mature way she handles herself are all reasons for that speculation.
If she does turn pro anytime soon, expectations will begin to intensify and a big part of that will be the business side.
If you read this story from the Toronto Star about Bouchard’s accomplishment in making the Wimbledon final, you’d almost think she was a failure in the eyes of marketing folks for not actually winning, while the rest of Canada cheered.
Those are the types of expectations placed on a 20-year-old once she enjoys success. In Henderson’s case, she’s even younger and she’ll have to face the same scrutiny should she enjoy early success as a pro.
That’s not to say she can’t handle it, only that it’s something that will need to be considered. Certainly, her dream is to play the LPGA Tour, but the business side is an aspect that will be tough to ignore.
It’s all speculation at this point, but hopefully she and her family are looking at all aspects of any such decision in the near future.