If there was something positive to come from the uncertain, unique, and at times overwhelming year that was 2020 it’s that golf in Canada experienced a boom like never before.
Canadians came out to play the sport in record numbers. Golf Canada, which has an online portal that tracks all scores inputted for handicap purposes, saw more people input scores for every month through the summer – and into September and October, too.
The National Golf Course Owners Association (Canada) also had data that saw rounds-played at courses across the country sky-rocket through this golf season – in some cases and during some months by as much as 200 percent year-over-year.
Overall, according to the NGCOA Canada, rounds played this season were up 18.9 percent over 2019 (with data measured from April to October). When compared to the five-year average, rounds were up 17.8 percent – which further reinforced the success golf experienced this year in Canada.
The sport lent itself to being naturally social-distanced (a buzzword that entered our lexicon in 2020 and hopefully leaves sooner rather than later) and was a source of mental and physical reprieve for more people than ever before.
“We’re pretty lucky to go to work every day and be focused on trying to grow golf,” said Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum of the year-that-was. “When you couple that with the respite that the sport had given […] it has been hard for so many folks.
“We haven’t been able to get out and do the things we want, so that appreciation (that golf was played by so many people) was a little more pronounced,” said Applebaum.
Still, so many people turned to golf as an escape.
“Golf has really thrived during this time,” said Mackenzie Hughes, the one-time PGA Tour winner who made it to the Tour Championship this fall on the strength of some fabulous play after the Tour returned from its three-month COVID-19 break.
Mackenzie Hughes, Canadian PGA Tour Player
Hughes, who is from Dundas, Ont. (just outside Hamilton) and now lives in Charlotte, N.C. with his wife Jenna and two sons, was one of the big Canadian bright spots for golf fans to follow in 2020.
Hughes’ longtime friend Corey Conners had one of the all-time best performances at the Masters by a Canadian and ended the year on a hot streak. Their fellow Kent State University alum Taylor Pendrith tore up the Korn Ferry Tour. And this all happened after Nick Taylor captured his second-career PGA Tour event (in February). Brooke Henderson, of course, continued her fine play on the LPGA Tour, while off-the-course fellow Canadian Alena Sharp married her longtime partner (and caddie!) Sarah Bowman in a private ceremony at their home in Arizona.
“It’s a bit unusual,” said Hughes of the celebration of golf’s boom in 2020, “but seeing as it’s outdoors and there are a few less restrictions on it, it’s pretty awesome.
“You don’t want to make the whole pandemic sound like a positive, but as it relates to golf, golf did quite well. Hopefully we’ve got people in the game and they’ve got the bug to play, because the more people we can have in this game, the better.”
From coast to coast, Canadians played more golf than ever before this year. And while a small sense of normalcy is on the horizon with the news of a COVID-19 vaccine now rolling out across the country, there is likely still time left we get back to everything feeling similar again.
That said, golf proved to be the most COVID-19 friendly of activities in 2020, and it’s likely that will stay very much true in 2021.
Written and intended to the GlobalGolf.ca audience by Adam Stanley