The adage ‘worry about what you can control’ is something golfers, and more importantly, golf course operators are having no part of in 2019. A 2017 National Allied Golf Associations economic impact study on Golf in Canada cited an annual economic contribution of over $14B. Course facilities in the country generate $5B in revenue, more than all other participation sports combined. (Source: https://golfcanada.ca/article/golf-canada-and-the-pga-of-canada-publish-golf-facilities-in-canada-2017-report) Yet the spring of 2019 has seen significant delays in course openings in central and eastern Canada. Unseasonably wet and cool weather has many golfer lamenting over not being able to play. While certainly an inconvenience, this likely pales compared to course operators who have fiscal bottom lines to manage. Of course, Mother Nature does not care and she marches to the beat of her own drum.
I had written recently on this very issue, stating I was a woeful 2 for 6 in opportunities to tee it up this spring. I felt a late May golf weekend, strategically moved from late April to minimize the risks of weather, would get my season truly underway. Ha. Wrong. 30+ mm of rain fell the evening of May 25 in nearby Goderich, ON. Falling on a saturated course and with tributaries at an already high level, the result was short term devastation and unplayable conditions into the foreseeable future. The weekend ended early. Forest Golf Club and Inn, where our group has gathered to play for almost 20 years now, left early. Management were fabulous; they quickly processed our checkouts and credited us for the day. We left, but they – and many other courses I would assume – were left with a labour intensive clean-up effort. Compounded to their efforts is a significant reduction in revenue. This is especially true for course who rely heavily on public play. Sure, spring golf is tough, but this is something we should choose to endure in April and not be subjected to well into May.
I urge fellow golfers to make the effort this summer to get out more, try new local courses and support an economic bottom line in a fun and enjoyable way. The money lost in the spring will not come back, but if we all try to play even a couple more rounds, even at courses that are new to us, it will make a difference. Mother Nature may have the upper hand now, but golfers are resilient and we will not be scared away that easily.
On a personal note, Forest Golf and Country Hotel GM, Andrew Palmer and his team deserve kudos for their commitment to service. It is people like Andrew that make me want to get back and visit courses again. While I certainly plan on a 2020 visit, I am hopeful my schedule may allow me to get back this year and thank him in person before teeing it up and exacting some revenge on Mother Nature.