In a couple of weeks, GNN will be celebrating the first anniversary of its launch on Sept. 15, 2008, and it has been an interesting year in which we grew the first website devoted specifically to the Canadian golf industry.
We will get into some of those highlights in the coming weeks, but one of the more interesting aspects of GNN is ability to reflect instantly the mood of the industry, which we’ve done in several ways in the hopes that readers will feel free to chime in with their opinions on various issues.
One of the more under-rated methods in which readers can have their say is through the GNN Forum, which offers industry people the opportunity to offer their opinions, post resumes and available positions, talk about their products/services and even pose questions to industry executives.
The GNN Forum isn’t the only way that readers can express their thoughts. Opinions can be offered at the bottom of each story or blog, or readers can vote on their answers to a variety of questions offered through the popular GNN Poll.
GNN was launched at a very unstable time in which the Canadian economy was starting to tank last autumn. The Canadian golf industry was also coming off a season in which weather was having a negative effect on the 2008 season, as well.
Through your opinions in the GNN Poll, we have been able to track the mood in the industry, beginning in November when we asked you for your opinion on the 2009 season ahead. The poll said 59 per cent of readers expected 2009 to be status quo, while only four per cent expected a banner year.
The disturbing part of that poll was that 37 per cent of respondents said they would prefer to hide under the bed until 2010, so with 96 per cent of those who answered expecting no growth or even worse in 2009, this year was looking pretty bleak back then.
The mood had changed somewhat by March when 67 per cent of respondents to another GNN Poll said their attitudes towards the overall economy had changed for the positive, compared to 33 per cent who weren’t seeing an upside at that point.
There were other concerns besides the economy in March. A couple of weeks after the above poll was taken, a new GNN Poll indicated that 69 per cent of respondents felt the weather was having a greater effect on the 2009 season than the economy, at least in the early going.
At least the crowd hiding under the bed in November had thinned out by June, when the GNN Poll asked readers how they felt the season was going. It was an even split as 42 per cent said status quo and a similar number said better than expected. Still, 16 per cent said they wanted to hide under the bed.
One of our most recent polls, beginning Aug. 23, asked readers if the second half of the season had been better than their first half and it was 50-50, yes and no.
There is definitely a more upbeat mood in the industry since that poll back in November, but it seems to be more of a cautious optimism than giddiness.
There have been strong indications recently that Canada is coming out of the recession, but the end of the downturn only means the beginning of the recovery and how long it takes for discretionary spending on pastimes such as golf to pick up is anybody’s guess, but it could take a long time.
A rather disturbing aspect to the rosy picture painted in the recently released economic impact study by the National Allied Golf Associations is that rounds were down as much as 10 per cent in 2008 and that was before the economy got hit so hard last fall. Could that soar to 20 per cent or above in 2009?
Weather and other natural influences remain an issue, whether it’s fires in British Columbia or the lack of summer in Ontario, so caution to balance the optimism out there is a good thing.
As much as GNN has no shortage of opinions, we realize the importance of listening to readers to help us gauge the mood of the industry. We encourage readers to contribute to the current poll on the GNN home page, as well as make use of the GNN Forum and other ways we offer readers to make their voices heard.
One of the main mandates of GNN is to reflect the industry we have served for almost a year.