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Sympatico: Wet Weather and Canada's Golf Decline

This week’s Sympatico column looks at the plight facing Canadian golf courses because of our horrible spring. One thing people don’t seem to understand is that a hot and dry summer can’t compensate for the lousy weather in the first two months — only an unuually warm November might go part way to fixing things. The whole column is here — and here’s a teaser:

“It is tough when a big part of your business is dependent on something that’s out of your control.”

That’s the perspective of Barry Forth, general manager of Copetown Woods, a mid-priced public golf course outside of Hamilton, Ont.

Weather has been a huge factor for the Canadian golf business this year, with horribly wet weather across Canada has kept golfers off fairways. At a time when golf participation numbers, especially in the U.S., are declining and courses are just stabilizing from the economic decline of 2008, a spring season where one needed an ark to play out of some fairway bunkers isn’t what the business needed.

Some in the industry have suggested play in the first two months of Ontario’s golf season is down as much as 40% — with rounds declining by up to 2,000 in April and May. At a course that charges $50 per round, that could be up to $100,000 in revenue lost due to skies that dumped record rain on many parts of Canada. Some would suggest that predictions for a hot, dry Canadian summer bode well for the golf business. But Bryan Row, general manager at Tarandowah Golfers Club, a fine links-like facility outside of London, says he’s not sure the good weather will change the bad start to the year. He’s down around 1,500 rounds off the pace of 2010, he says.

“There’s no way we can pick up that many rounds,” he says. There may be some hope though; Row notes that July is unique in that this year it has five weekends at the industry’s peak time. It may bring in an additional 500 rounds, he says, but it can’t offset the losses from early in the season.

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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

  • Two words – Weather Derivatives.

    UK pubs use them to hedge bad weather risk, perhaps Canadian golf courses should start using them to hedge bad weather risk like our spring.

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