The team at Golf Canada reported that 2023 was the strongest year on record for golf in Canada. They had an all-time high of over ten million scores posted into the Golf Canada App. There were concerns that golf participation may soften post pandemic, but that has not been the case. Golf Canada has also indicated that the outlook for 2024 remains very optimistic. That is great news for Foodbuy Canada’s golf members.

One concern that has been raised is the diminishing opportunities for junior golfers because of the increase in participation. Golf Canada and their First Tee – Canada program is looking to help ensure the long-term sustainability of golf in Canada. The primary objective of the First Tee – Canada program is to expand the current demographics of the sport to ensure golf participation better reflects the strengths of a multicultural Canada.

Foodbuy spoke to Adam Hunter, Director, Grow the Game at Golf Canada about the goals of the First Tee – Canada Program. “Our goal is to provide kids with an accessible and affordable entranceway into the sport. Many private facilities used to have a Sponsor or Junior Golf program where a child’s mom or dad did not have to be a member to play at that facility. However, those programs are diminishing because of the growth in participation. Tee times and discounts for juniors are now at a premium.”

Golf Canada originally partnered with the First Tee Program that was operating in the U.S. in 2020 to bring the program north of the border. Golf Canada is now operating six regional chapters. One chapter per province with the Prairies and Atlantic Canada grouped together.  Hunter indicated that, “the programs are executed in community centres and schools and then at golf courses’ green grass and practice facilities and the goal is to get those who are interested, on to the golf course.”

Hunter continued, “we hope that children from across all socio-economic backgrounds have an opportunity to get exposure to the sport through week long curriculums within their gym class. Those that love it can move up to the local green grass facility. Thanks to the generosity of some of our corporate donors, the programming at the green grass facilities is provided at no cost to the child.  In 70-75 percent of the cases, the kids will not pay for their participation, either at the schools, community centres or at green grass facilities.”

One of the programs Golf Canada manages is the Youth on Course program that provides kids the opportunity to play golf for $5 or less at participating facilities. Kids get access to the Youth on Course opportunities through their Golf Canada or Golf Ontario membership. They play for $5 or less and then Golf Canada will subsidize the delta in the Junior golf green fees. “We feel golf is a vehicle to deliver transformational life skills. We want to develop children on the golf course, but more importantly we want to develop them off the golf course as well. The inherent life skills that come from playing golf is a key component to the program’s success.  Fifty percent of our participants have self-identified as coming from the BIPOC community, and 83% of the schools that Golf Canada partners with are within low socioeconomic neighbourhoods,” said Hunter.

First Tee – Canada has put 58,000 kids through the program in 2023 alone. The program will also reach a milestone this year with 100,000 kids participating in the program since its inception.

Golf Canada is also proud of their premier event, The RBC Canadian Open. It will be hosted once again at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club for 2024 and will be held a week earlier this year – May 28th to June 2nd.   Hunter added, “The RBC Canadian Open is coming off a very momentous 2023 year which was highlighted by Canadian Nick Taylor winning with a 72-foot putt in the playoff at Oakdale Golf & Country Club.

“Hamilton is one of the top courses in Canada and has been an exceptional host venue for the tournament in the past. We are excited to return to the newly renovated Hamilton Golf and Country Club for the 2024 RBC Canadian Open.”

Foodbuy Canada understands the unique needs of the golf industry and provides purchasing solutions to ensure the best business outcomes including rebate programs, sourcing, supply chain management, custom order guides, purchasing optimizations and more.


This is an excerpt from the Foodbuy 2024 Golf Club and Leisure Guide. To read the guide, click here.

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