3Q School – Golf Canada CEO Scott Simmons

Scott Simmons, CEO of Golf Canada

Scott Simmons, CEO of Golf Canada

For the inaugural entry into 3Q School, Founder Roger had a chance to chat with Scott Simmons, the CEO of Golf Canada.

We hear a lot about the state of golf in Canada right now. Some are concerned that the game isn’t growing. Dick’s Sporting Goods in the US just laid off a lot of golf staff. Municipal golf courses are losing money. The number of golf rounds being played is down.

But there’s more to be optimistic about as it turns out. Here’s three questions with Scott Simmons:

OC: How big is the business of golf in Canada?

SS: In the latest economic impact study that was released for golf in Canada, it’s a $14B business. It’s larger that all other participation sports combined. It employs more than 300,000 people, more than any other recreation activity or industry, contributes half a billion to charity. This is a massive business.

OC: In many cities, municipal golf is a money loser. These courses are important to introduce people to the game. How should they be run differently?

SS: I do know that every course can be profitable if it’s run properly. People just need to be innovative. They need to ensure they’re delivering the proper value proposition to the demographic they’re going after. Just like in any business there are clubs that are struggling and there are clubs that are having booming success. That being said, the economy has had a soft period over the last five years, people are careful about their discretionary spending. Rounds are down over the last five years, but it’s a growing sport and it’s much larger now than it has been in previous decades.

OC: Do you think golf should be an eligible tax deduction for businesses in Canada?

SS: I absolutely do and let me explain why. In 1971, the federal government changed the tax deduction laws. Everything was 100% in ’71. They cut everything to 50% except golf which they completely eliminated. Who knows why? The fact is, in 2014, small business people can entertain clients in any number of ways and write off 50% of that. Be it a hockey game, a night of theatre, dinner, a day of skiing. All of those things are eligible for a tax deduction, and yet if you take them out for 18 holes of golf, it’s not. So it’s not as if the golf industry is looking for a special favour. They’re just looking for equal treatment. And this isn’t about being able to write off memberships or initiation fees. This is simply the green fees associated with meeting a client. Who knows how many small business people are looking at doing something other than golf with a client because of the inequity of that decision?

By they way, Scott is a fan of the 15″ cups you may have been hearing about. Anything that can make a new or novice golfer want to keep coming back is good for the game.