Today, April 15, is the official start of golf season in Ontario, and for many parts of Canada. Provincial golf associations set dates for which recorded golf scores will count toward a players’ index. For me this is the last and final step toward the start of the golf season (there are many incremental steps which take place all winter and early spring).
Of the millions of people who golf in Canada I have read a surprising small percentage actually are members or are registered with their provincial golf associations. I respect that. There are many casual golfers out there. I also acknowledge it is an issue which Golf Canada and associations across the country struggle with; that being an articulation of a value proposition which will make golfers feel compelled to join their provincial association. But that is another topic for another day.
I will share my main motivators which make me join the Golf Association of Ontario (GAO) as a Public Player each winter:
1. Integrity – I was very pleased with this piece from John Gordon who discussed sandbagging in golf. I suspect it is a real and serious issue but my golfing circles are not as expansive (yet) and the issue of integrity is more a personal one for me. That said the time and resources spent around this issue are significant. Golf Canada even employs a Director of Handicap and Course Rating in support of this.
2. Improvement –this is most important for me. Golf is fun, but I also play to play my best and to improve. Through the GAO I can track my performance over the years which I have been a member. I’ve been able to track my handicap peak and valley from a high of almost 15 to its current low now, just below 9. As someone who is drawn to numbers and statistics, GAO/Golf Canada offers expanded functions around statistics which I do not use but appreciate (I simply track my own data).
3. Competition – this is a newer application for me but one I am increasingly appreciating and is closely connected to number one on this list. Having participated in a couple competitive events over the years there is a level of assurance that I will be flighted with golfers of a similar skill set as me. This has been my experience. In fact, the only outlier of this is my incredibly poor play one day at Bear Mountain with members where I was a 12 and played more like a 21 handicapper. Safe to say it was clear who was buying the first round that afternoon.
Opening dates across Canada for tracking your handicap index are as follows:
British Columbia – March 1
Alberta – March 1
Newfoundland – April 1
Saskatchewan – April 15
Manitoba – April 15
Ontario – April 15
Nova Scotia – April 15
Prince Edward Island – April 16
New Brunswick – May 1
Enjoy the season. Have fun and play well. Check Golf Canada here to learn about your provincial association and how you can join.