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Younger players drive recreational golf

The broad appeal of golf as a safe, healthy outdoor recreation is attracting younger players searching for "fun"
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Recreational golf in North America keeps rising to new heights of popularity.

Locally, and throughout Canada and the United States golf was one of shining lights throughout COVID. During those topsy-turvey two years, the courses’ open spaces allowed people to enjoy a social activity while remaining physically distant.

Prior to COVID there were gloomy predictions about aging golfers. In a back-handed way, the pandemic prompted a younger crowd to check out the golf greens. According to a study conducted by the Professional Golfers’ Association of Alberta (PGAA), the average age of golfers has dropped by three years said PGAA executive director Robert Rouselle.

While most prognosticators predicted rounds leveling off after 2022, this did not happen. As Millennials and Gen X’rs embraced the game, numbers rose.

Sturgeon Valley Golf & Country Club, a semi-private 18-hole course with 500 members, was busy during the pandemic. It currently handles from 5,000 to 10,000 rounds per month said Mason Yung, apprentice golf professional.

Yung recently turned professional and joined the PGA in July 2022. In between playing the circuit, he teaches golf at the club.

“COVID definitely affected us. But it was in a good way. Golf really took off. Everyone started to pick up a club. After COVID most people stayed in golf. We actually have a waiting list on our membership,” Yung said.

At the club, he still sees businesspeople meeting for a lunch and a game, but it’s the younger generation that are turning the game into a social affair.

“The younger generation come with friends. They see it as a social thing. When they’re done, they’ll sit on the patio and have a few drinks,” said Yung.

While Canadian female athlete of the year, Brooke Henderson and golf champion Nick Taylor are inspiring young recreational golfers, Yung believes social media has a stronger influence.

“One thing that’s changed is YouTube and TikTok where you find media stars like Grant Horvat. You can watch them on social media and see how they play.”

While Sturgeon Valley is enjoying a steady increase, Terrae Pine Golf Course and Country Club did not see the same surge during COVID said manager Elaine Schafers.

“Through COVID we took a big hit. COVID kept people away and it made it difficult for our staff.

Located in Sturgeon County on Highway 2, the 18-hole club was incorporated in 1991 and has served the area for 33 years.

“We’re seeing a little bit of change. Younger men seem more interested in the game, but it’s more entertainment for them. The younger men love the game for the game. Even my son, who is 29, and his friends have taken up indoor golf in winter months, and they’re obsessed.”

Schafers, who has played golf for 35 years, views it as a great recreational activity for any individual.

“I really hope the younger generation gets interested in golfing. It helps you stay healthy and fit.”


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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