I’ve been tipped off that the topic of this week’s GNN Poll is the effect of PGA and LPGA Tour players on golf participation.
I think it’s huge, but not so much because it gets people into the game, but it does have a positive effect on people who are already into the game, whether they’re beginners or have a long history in golf.
When Mike Weir won the Masters, or when Mike is doing well, people watch. My little guy thinks he’s Mike Weir and my mother-in-law, who is an avid golfer, is glued to the set when Mike’s in the hunt.
It’s the same pride that we take in our hockey teams. We’re a very proud people and I think we need to have more Canadians on tour, at the top of their games and in contention regularly.
They become role models. Growing up, I idolized hockey players and Jack Nicklaus. In particular, we need homegrown idols like Mike Weir. He’s done a lot for junior golf and a lot for the game in this country.
I think watching Mike Weir, Stephen Ames and Lorie Kane on TV is great for people who are new to the game and enjoying the game. It’s good for the young people, who might say, `Mike Weir worked hard and won the Masters. I’m going to work hard too.’
I’m not sure it’s so much a stepping stone to get people into golf, but if they’re already in the game, the more exposure to Canadian touring pros and the more people to cheer for, it keeps them interested and grows the game that way.
Somebody like a teaching pro also plays an important role because they encourage you and help you, but I think the fit for touring pros is that they go a long way to developing our golfers when the people playing the game at the grassroots level can see role models.
That’s why I think we’re such a great hockey nation. We grew up playing road hockey and thinking we’re our favourite players. I think the same thing works in golf.