A conventional line of thinking held by many is in regard to the impact of PGA Tour/LPGA Tour players on those who take up the game in Canada.
While I have no doubt that there is some correlation between the players at the top levels of golf and those who take up the game, I don’t believe the impact is as huge as others might believe.
Tour players are beacons for the game and, although there is no definitive proof of this, it’s likely Mike Weir’s win at the Masters in 2003, or Sandra Post’s 1968 LPGA Championship caused a spike in interest in the game, leading to a certain number of people actually participating.
Having said that, there are so many factors that can lead to somebody taking up golf that it’s too easy to identify just one as a blanket reason for people getting into the game, even if tour stars are constantly in front of us through their own accomplishments, media hero worshipping or product endorsements.
There are other factors that contribute greatly to people taking up the game including:
Family tradition: If mom and dad or grandparents play golf, then it’s likely the kids will play as well. The influence of family is likely the greatest catalyst for people getting into the game.
Friends: If a person’s family doesn’t have a golfing tradition, then a friend who plays the game could have a huge influence on somebody who hasn’t tried it.
Business: Even though corporate golf took a hit during the recession, a golf course is still prime land on which to grow business relationships and network. Professional reasons for playing golf are often as great as enjoyment of the game for taking up golf.
Teaching Professionals/Coaches: Like your favourite teacher from high school, a teaching professional with enthusiasm and the ability to communicate can play an important role in encouraging neophytes to stay in what can often be a frustrating game at the beginner’s level.
Those are just a few of the factors that enter into a person’s decision to take up golf and certainly tour pros with their profiles are a contributing factor, as well. Whether they are as big a factor as some like to believe is up for debate.
One argument is that having more Canadians on the PGA and LPGA Tours would contribute to growing the game, but even with relatively few homies on tour, this country has the highest participation rate per capita in the world. Can it be that Canadians just enjoy the game?
That’s not to deny the influence of touring pros, but to point out that their effect on those who play the game for sheer enjoyment is just one several contributing factors that make golf the most popular recreational sport in the land.
What’s your take?
How would you describe the influence of PGA/LPGA Tour players from Canada on participation?
Is it one of many factors? Would you describe it as considerable or would you say it’s a huge influence?
It’s time to vote because that’s the question in the new GNN Poll now up on the home page. As always, feel free to leave your comments on this subject below.