Golf a major drive in Alberta’s economy

The National Allied Golf Associations wants Albertans to know just how much of an impact duffers have on the provincial economy.

The group held a news conference in Edmonton recently to highlight the sport not only as a major driver of Alberta’s economy, but also to bring awareness about how environmentally responsible the industry is.

“Golf is played more by Canadians than hockey,” said Dunc Mills, executive director of the McLennan Ross Sun Junior Golf Tour and spokesman for NAGA’s Alberta branch, in a statement.

“More than 754,000 Albertans, and six million Canadians play golf each year, making it Canada’s number one sport in participation and a great way to stay fit, get healthy and have fun.”

And with all those people lining up for tee times, Mills points out that that has a big impact on the economy.

A recent report suggested Alberta’s golf industry was responsible for more than $1.9 billion in direct sales annually, employs more than 50,000 Albertans, and pays over $400 million in taxes per year.

“Alberta’s golf courses contribute a great deal to our economy,” said Mills, who is busy gearing up for beginning of the Junior Tour, which kicks off May 15 and features several up and coming Central Alberta golfers.

“But we also want people to know how we positively impact the environment.”

Nationally, golf courses like Red Deer’s Riverbend and Lacombe’s Wolf Creek represent 160,000 hectares of green space and almost 41,000 hectares of unmanaged plant and wildlife habitat.

“This isn’t Caddyshack,” said Mills, who notes that golf course operators use pesticides sparingly and that water that leaves a golf course is often cleaner than what entered the course.

“Golf course owners and superintendents always want to be good environmental stewards because it’s good for the planet and our bottom line.”