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Inside the facts and facilities of golf in Canada

“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”

It’s a quote made famous by Albert Einstein which came to mind after the release of Golf Facilities in Canada 2015, the definitive report on golf facilities and development in Canada.

Released in June, Golf Facilities in Canada 2015 identifies all existing public and private facilities across Canada. The report – a collaborative effort between Golf Canada and the PGA of Canada – also includes information on facility openings and closings, as well as the number and type of facilities currently in development.

Since its release, I’ve been questioned on what value the report delivers to the golf industry. Quite simply, it provides a factual snapshot of 2,346 golf facilities—from public and private clubs to resorts, residential or nine-hole layouts in communities across Canada. The report outlines boom periods of growth during the 1960’s and again in the 90’s that delivered Canadians the third highest total supply of golf courses in the world.

The report provides a comprehensive breakdown of the golf courses and projects that form the Canadian golf landscape. The facts present a compelling argument that our sport, with the highest participation rate of any in Canada, is affordable, has tremendous accessibility and has options for players of all abilities and wants. The current supply of golf courses may be greater than what is needed to satisfy the 5.7 million Canadians who play more than 60 million rounds annually. Golf’s highs and lows have been cyclical for more than a century and like any industry, competition and market forces will eventually right size the number of golf courses and that’s probably a good thing.

Since 2010, there have been 22 documented course openings. In addition, 31 facilities – all public – are currently in planning or under construction across Canada. The study reinforces golf’s accessibility with facts to show that nearly 90 per cent of all courses are open to the public.

A finding I found most compelling was that more than 37 per cent of facilities are nine holes in addition to countless 18-hole facilities that offer nine-hole pricing. Those who theorize that golf takes too long or is too costly should consider the nine-hole round when formulating their opinion. Golf, like any recreational activity takes a certain time commitment and the facilities report confirms that Canadian golf enthusiasts can take advantage of a multitude of options.

The facts reinforce that golf facilities are the foundation for major sport participation, more than $14 billion in economic impact, tourism, charitable giving and environmental stewardship in communities across Canada.

GOLF FACILITIES IN CANADA 2015– A SNAPSHOT:

  • Canada is home to 2,346 public and private golf facilities; ranking it third in the world in total supply.
  • Seventy-seven per cent of the total golf supply is located in Canada’s four most populated provinces—Ontario, Québec, Alberta and British Columbia.
  • Golf remains extremely accessible in Canada as more than 90 per cent of the country’s supply is open to the public.
  • Of the 2,126 public facilities in Canada, half are located in Ontario and Québec, which together account for 61 per cent of the country’s total population and 73 per cent of Canada’s 220 private clubs.
  • Nine-hole golf accounts for almost 37 per cent of Canada’s total supply, outnumbering 18-hole supply in Manitoba and Saskatchewan In Saskatchewan, 18-hole courses are outnumbered 3 to 1 by 9-hole courses.
  • Canada features nine 12-hole facilities (six of which are in Ontario) and three 6-hole facilities.
  • Resort golf, though a small segment of Canada’s overall supply, is a significant contributor to tourism in several provinces. Countrywide, 167 facilities (or approximately 7 per cent) of total supply are connected to a resort or a resort/real estate operation.
  • Course construction peaked in the 1960s with the opening of more than 420 facilities and then again between 1990 and 1999, when more than 310 courses—13 per cent of total supply —opened. The growth was highlighted by the opening of 257 facilities in the four largest provinces: Ontario, Québec, Alberta and British Columbia.
  • Since 2010, 29 facilities have opened in six different provinces. In recent years, Canada has seen only moderate growth, and currently has 31 18-hole equivalent facilities in various stages of development.
  • Of those facilities in various stages of development, 17 have broken ground including seven in Alberta and four in Nova Scotia. Nearly 60 per cent of new projects are tied to a real estate development.
  • In the past five to 10 years, 158 facilities have closed. One in five of those closures were located in Ontario, which is home to 35 per cent of the total supply of Canada’s facilities. Three of Canada’s 10 provinces have seen fewer than five facility closures during the past decade.

Download the complete report at: golfcanada.ca/GolfFacilitiesinCanada2015


Facts and Facilities

This article was originally published in the September 2015 edition of Golf Canada Magazine. To view the full magazine, click the image to the left.

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