BC Golf Industry Association Meets New Group Of MLAs

by Jeff Sutherland at Inside Golf

AGA-BC has spoken to sitting provincial governments before but this time it was to any who were hearing about the value of golf for the first time…

May 28th marked the fourth time that the Allied Golf Association of British Columbia (AGA-BC) has hosted a Golf Awareness Day for the BC Legislature. This time, however, it was NDP’er Ravi Kahlon (MLA for Delta North and Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism) who headed a group of 30+ fellow backbenchers who got an update on golf’s relevance to the people of BC and to the province’s economy as well.

During the information portion of the luncheon, AGA-BC representatives used an industry scorecard to explain the topics they wanted to highlight.

During his opening statements, AGA-BC president Trevor Smith explained how the scorecard worked, “Golfers in the room will instantly recognize the birdies on the Scorecard where we feel we are doing exceptionally well; pars, where we are performing as we should be, and bogeys – areas we have identified for improvement together with government.”

Birdies were earned in three areas:
– for economic impact where golf provides 44,000 jobs, generates more than two billion dollars in economic activity and accounts for $465 million in tax revenues
– for environmental stewardship where the industry is extremely pro-active in developing IPM (integrated pest management) best practices and setting tough environmental standards.
– in promoting golf as a sport for life where playing 18 holes equates to walking more than 10 km and playing the game can add five years to your life.

Three bogeys were awarded as well including one related to the promotion of BC as a golf destination where according to AGA Board member Trisha Larsen who represents the British Columbia Golf Marketing Alliance,”… the U.S. market remains largely untapped.”

Water was also cited as a concern with the industry wanting to ensure supply at reasonable rates giving themselves a bogey for work still in progress.  The Western Canada Turfgrass Association’s executive director, Jerry Rousseau talked about the “California Model” where courses in that state were actually able to use less water than regulators were asking when given the control of when and where to apply it.

MLA Ravi Kahlon - AGA-BC Golf Awareness Day 2018

BC’s amateur organization, British Columbia Golf brought some of their SNAG equipment used in the “Playgrounds to Fairways” programs and MLAs took advantage of the chance to swing some “golf clubs”… some of them for the first time. Shown is North Delta MLA Ravi Kahlon who showed a prowess consistent with an Olympic athlete.

From the response of the attending MLAs, it was clear that this like much of the information presented was new. Even the fact that golf is Canada’s #1 participation sport was a surprise to some.

But it was clear that Ravi Kahlon and his fellow MLAs were hearing the message.

While this info session may have been a departure for many of the attending MLAs, it appears their perception of the industry may be changing.

In a short address, the two-time Olympian in field hockey acknowledged golf’s value to tourism and its potential for getting more women more active and involved in sports stating their position as “…looking forward to continuing the conversation around tourism as well as the water issues.”

One of the attendees, Liberal Doug Clovechok, MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke, addressed the Legislative Assembly of BC the next day on National Golf Day, May 29th and invited the members opposite to a match!

Golf Canada CEO Meets with BC Golf Industry Leaders

by Jeff Sutherland

Barely into his start, Golf Canada’s new CEO is already making the rounds.

Laurence Applebaum, who spent the last five years as executive vice-president of the Women’s Tennis Association, set an aggressive 21-day schedule to meet with golf industry leaders across Canada… all on their home turf.

His stop in BC was July 19th, hosted by the Point Grey Golf and Country Club and was an opportunity for break out meetings with four separate groups including the directors of the Allied Golf Association (AGA) of BC (a collective of individual provincial golf sector leaders). The meeting was a mix of meet-and-greet, tailgate, and open discussion about specific programs and services offered by Golf Canada. Topics ranged from the number of golf associations across Canada, to detailed talk about green fee pricing at Vancouver municipal golf courses, charitable contributions originating from golf in Canada and the financial state of the industry itself.

In review of AGA-BC’s efforts, tangible success stories were brought up such as the recent increase in matched government golf marketing funding from $50k to $250k, development of a new IPM manual for turf managers with $35k from the Ministry of Environment to help, three successful golf awareness days in Victoria and regulatory advocacy work on the issues of pesticides, water use and liquor laws.

Applebaum was visibly impressed remarking, “This is an awesome initiative, I haven’t met with any other group like this in the other provinces.”

It is clear that growing Golf Canada and driving the game is on Applebaum’s mind, “There are financial opportunities for Golf Canada to pursue such as Olympic sport funding and additional corporate sponsorship… We need to create a profitable, robust business of golf. Marketing and communication is key.”

But it is also clear that Applebaum would like to see the role and perception of Golf Canada change. “Golf Canada has been described as being an inch deep and a mile wide. We need to narrow our focus, change our culture and as a take-away from this meeting, expect ‘upservice’ from Golf Canada in the near future.”


Image courtesy AGA-BC

AGA-BC Directors meet with new Golf Canada CEC, Laurence Applebaum, at Point Grey Golf and Country Club. L-R: Jerry Rousseau, Western Canada Turfgrass Association, Donald Miyazaki, PGA of BC, Mike Whalen, Canadian Society of Club Managers, Laurence Applebaum, Golf Canada, Kris Jonasson, BC Golf Association, Joan Probert, National Golf Course Owners Association, Erica Beck, National Golf Course Owner’s Association, Trevor Smith, Allied Golf Association of BC President, Dale Jackson, Golf Canada