Canada’s golf participation rate double that of U.S.

When you think of Canada, the sport that comes to mind is usually hockey. On the recreational side, however, Canada’s loyalties lie with golf.

With 2,346 public and private golf facilities, Canada is the fourth largest country when it comes to the number of courses, according to the National Golf Foundation.

Golf in Canada is extremely accessible as 90 percent of the country’s facilities are open to the public versus 75 percent of U.S. courses. Additionally, 1 out of every 10 Canadians play golf for a total of 6 million golfers nationwide.

“That participation rate is more than double that of the United States (albeit from a much smaller population base),” the National Golf Foundation reports.

This data comes from a new report “Golf Facilities in Canada 2015,” co-published by Golf Canada and the PGA of Canada, which details the state of the industry in Canada based on data from the National Golf Foundation. For example, a third of all courses in Canada are 9-hole courses, and 59 percent of all courses in Canada are 18 holes.

“This first-ever Canadian report offers an in-depth summary of national and provincial data,” said Scott Simmons, chief executive officer of Golf Canada, the country’s governing body of golf. “The numbers reinforce the massive financial, charitable, tourism and environmental impact our sport has in communities across Canada.” 

Nearly 75 percent of courses are located in Canada’s four most-population provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia. Ontario alone is home to more than a third of all courses in the country. Quebec and Ontario also contain 73 percent of the country’s private clubs. 

“Canadians are passionate about the game of golf. A snapshot of the Canadian golf landscape reveals an industry that is worth more than $14.3 billion to the Canadian economy and represents more than 1 percent of the nation’s total GDP,” Simmons said. 

According to the report, seven percent of the world’s golf facilities are located in Canada. Canada is one of only seven countries with more than 500 golf facilities. 

In the 1990s, a surge of 310 new courses opened, or 13 percent of Canada’s total supply. Similar to the U.S., “rightsizing” in Canada has taken place as several courses have closed and new development has slowed.

Since 2010, 22 new courses have opened, mostly near golf centers such as Ontario and Alberta. The National Golf Foundation is tracking 31 courses in Canada currently under planning or construction. Nearly 75 percent of those new developments are linked to real estate projects or resorts.

“This suggests that while the majority of Canada’s facilities rely on local play, signs point to future golf development being driven by golf-related tourism and real estate development,” the National Golf Foundation reports.

This diverts from the trend in existing Canadian courses, as 88 percent of all courses are golf only, meaning they have no resort or residential connection. 

If you’re looking for a transnational golfing experience, try Aroostook Valley Country Club. It sits on the U.S.-Canadian border, meaning golfers can actually hit a ball from one country to the other — without a passport. 

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