The future of the Kananaskis Country Golf Course wouldn’t even be an issue today had oil prices hadn’t started plummeting when they did late last year to threaten the Alberta economy, which is facing a $7-billion revenue shortfall. The province committed $18-million last year to the repair of Kananaskis after the flood of 2013 destroyed one of Canada’s most picturesque golf courses. Supporters of the Kananaskis restoration point to the revenue it generates for the province and the people it employs … A poll conducted by CBC asked last year asked if taxpayers’ money should be used to repair Kananaskis and 56.95 per cent of respondents said repairs should be privately funded, while 37.61 per cent said it was a good investment in tourism. Another 5.44 per cent said it didn’t matter to them … The timing of the drop in oil prices is also bad for the goal of the National Allied Golf Association to have the game deemed a legitimate business expense for companies using it to entertain clients. The hope was, and still is, that such a designation would be included in the federal budget in 2015, an election year, but the falling price of oil has changed the economic landscape quickly and the budget got pushed back to April. As this story from the Globe and Mail indicates, a pre-budget meeting with private sector economists is to take place April 9 before a budget date is set. As it was with Kananaskis, it will be difficult for the feds to justify a business tax deduction for companies wanting to play golf if there’s a bleak economic picture heading into an election year … On the other side of the ledger, you would think the falling price of oil would mean a break for golf operations that need fuel for equipment and rely on delivered goods, but the price of gas isn’t reflecting what’s happening in the market and word is it could go even higher … Last week’s GNN Poll indicates that golf courses are only occasionally circulating in the communities in which they operate. Forty nine per cent of respondents said the golf operations where they work only occasionally get out into their specific marketplaces to promote the benefits of golf, while another 28 per cent said it never happens. Only 23 per cent said that the operations where they work regularly get out in the community. This week’s GNN Poll asks if the industry is moving quickly enough to make golf courses more sustainable. You can cast your vote on that one on the GNN home page. On that topic, it’s worth noting that Chinese authorities have closed 66 golf courses to protect arable land and save on water … It will be all about Tiger Woods, who has fallen outside the top 100 in the World Golf Rankings, this week as speculation builds about whether or not he’ll play the Masters, but Graham DeLaet has also slipped to 69th after his third consecutive missed cut at the Valero Texas Open and he’ll need a win at this week’s Shell Houston Open to play at Augusta. He’ll be joined in the field by Adam Hadwin, David Hearn, Roger Sloan and Nick Taylor … I have to admit that I thought Brooke Henderson would be better off playing another season of amateur golf before going to LPGA Q-school later this year, but she’s looked solid with a couple of wins on the Suncoast Tour in Florida and last week’s runner-up finish on the Symetra Tour. It will get progressively more difficult as the season wears on, but she’ll go into it with a lot of confidence from her play thus far … Brittany Henderson is also flourishing this year with three second-place finishes, two on the Suncoast Tour and one on the Symetra Tour. So far, Brittany hasn’t been able to put the hammer down in the final round, but if it’s true that the more times you get in contention, the closer you are to victory, then she’s due … There’s still a long way to go, but Brittany Henderson is currently among the three Canadians in the top 10 on the Symetra Tour money list who graduate to the LPGA Tour at the end of the season. Sue Kim of Langley, B.C., jumped from 42nd to first on the money list after her win at Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, while Brittany Henderson vaulted from 40th to fifth on the weekend. Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., is 10th.
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