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The RCGA's Grand New Plan

This morning Royal Canadian Golf Association ED Scott Simmons will publicly unveil the organization’s new strategic plan. This has been forthcoming since Simmons took the job last summer, and he and the organization have been pursuing a way to raise interest, membership and revenue, while also improving the way the organization is viewed, as well as its key results.

The conference call to discuss the plan — which was approved in January, but not made public until now — happens later this morning. In the meantime, the RCGA sent me a Powerpoint that goes through the key elements of the plan.

As strengths of the RCGA, the organization says it includes:

¢ Status as the national sport organization (NSO) for golf in Canada
¢ Ability to run exceptional tournaments
¢ The authority on Rules of Golf & Amateur Status and Handicap/Course Rating
¢ Ability to attract, retain and manage highly motivated volunteers
¢ CN Canadian Womens Open and RBC Canadian Open
¢ National scope (CLGA / RCGA amalgamation)
¢ Player Development/ CN Future Links programming
¢ Financial reserves – $34 million

There’s a fairly honest assessment of the problems as well:

¢ Not enough revenue sources
¢ Poor RCGA brand identity & awareness
¢ Ineffective governance model
¢ Too many programs, trying to do too many things
¢ Poor communications
¢ Failure to manage customer and stakeholder expectations
¢ Culture of golf / RCGA “ elitist, arrogant, rigid
¢ Canadian Open date

There’s clearly a big revenue shortfall projected, especially if the Canadian Open isn’t going to be the cash cow for the rest of the RCGA. The numbers currently show a loss of nearly $2 million this year. However, if I understand their charts correctly, the goal is to raise revenue through “new strategic imperatives” by $1.5 million next year. That means the organization breaks even by 2010.

So where is the money coming from? Partly it is a cost savings from focusing the organization, and part of it is through “diversifying revenue sources.” It looks like the goal is to grow the membership — especially among public players — and raise revenue accordingly. This includes increasing “individual membership” (ie — those not a member at a club) to 100,000 by 2010, an ambitious goal considering the public player program has been pretty quiet to date.

So what is the goal of all of this? The RCGA’s projections are as such:

ôƒ‚ 150,000 additional children introduced to golf
ôƒ‚ 80% of all golf courses in Canada are RCGA members
ôƒ‚ Canadas participation rate in golf remain at or above 21.5%
ôƒ‚ Both the mens and womens national teams finish in the top 3 at the World
Amateur Championships
ôƒ‚ 18 of the top 20 LPGA Tour players play the 2010 CN Canadian Womens
Open
ôƒ‚ 10 of the top 20 PGA Tour players play the 2010 RBC Canadian Open
ôƒ‚ The RCGA is seen as a progressive and inclusive national sport
organization (NSO)

Some of these ideas are pretty aggressive. Ten of the top 20 players appearing at the Canadian Open in 2010? That’s a stunner and will be hard to achieve. The LPGA target is very attainable. As for the growth numbers, the goal of having 80% of all courses as members may be difficult, but that will come down to the value that clubs and members receive from their affiliation with the RCGA. As for the 150,000 new kids playing the game — let’s hope Simmons and the RCGA can reach this goal — for the good of golf in Canada. It is this number that may have more of an impact on golf in Canada than all the Canadian Opens we play.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • What percentage of the RCGA’s members come from private clubs? My impression was that it is at least 75% – if that is the case then should it not be elitist? Is there objective to advance golf in Canada or to represent their membership? If it is the latter then they should be elitist if my guess about membership numbers is correct.

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