Has Golf Become Canada’s New National Sport?

Before hockey fanatics start hurling the ‘blasphemy’ accusations, a careful examination of the facts is warranted for this discussion. Nobody would ever question the Canadian love affair with hockey, but golf, as surprising as it may seem, is the sport that Canadians play the most. And in terms of golf’s contribution to Canada’s economy, it stands head and shoulders above all other sports, including the National Hockey League, as Canada’s most economically viable sport. Yes Canadians love their golf too!

An intensive survey conducted by Strategic Networks Group, Inc for the National Allied Golf Associations speaks volumes about golf’s prominence and impact on Canadians. The 2009 study incorporated feedback from more than 4,000 golfers and 350 golf courses across all 10 provinces and 3 Territories. These guys covered all the bases and their 26-page report and came up with some astounding statistics for the Canadian golf industry, supported by 6 million golfers and 70 million rounds of golf, amongst the highest rates per capita in the world.

Of the 6 million or so golfers that enjoy the sport in Canada, 2.5 million of them are ‘core’ golfers who play, on average, about 28 rounds per year, weather permitting of course. Based solely on participation rates alone, the sport of golf is played by more Canadians than any other sport, including hockey. In 2009, Canadian golfers spent $2.1 billion on golf equipment, $4.1 billion at golf courses, $700 million on golf apparel, and $1.8 billion on golf travel. Another additional $2.3 billion was spent on non-golf industries such as hotels and restaurants by Canuck duffers. That’s a total of $13.6 billion in golf expenditures. Staggering numbers to say the least.

In terms of golf’s economic impact on the Canadian economy, the numbers are just as impressive. In 2009, the golf industry accounted for 341,794 jobs in Canada. Golf contributed $7.6 billion to the Canadian household income, $1.2 billion in taxes, and $1.9 billion in income taxes. Homeowners adjacent to golf courses saw their property value rise by $1.4 billion in 2009. Golf courses netted $4.7 billion in 2009 while other spectator sports, including the National Hockey League, grossed about half of that at $2.4 billion. Golf in Canada is big business.

Tourism and charity also benefitted greatly from Canada’s passion for golf in 2009. Golfers spent $1.9 million on golf-related travel within Canada while raising $439 million for a variety of charities through tournaments and other golf activities.

Golf provides some of the best employment and investment opportunities in Canada. 43% of golf employment across Canada belonged to students or young adults just getting into the industry in 2009. As for other golf-related businesses, Canadians have never had as many opportunities to combine their passion for golf and business as they do today. Keep your head up hockey!