In the midst of midterm election season and economic policy-making, the leaders of the golf industry have seized this moment as the time to designate their place in the ever-changing world of politics.
Led the by the non-profit National Golf Foundation, the 2010 American Golf Census is designed to accurately account for the number and ability level of golfers in the United States, along with various other fun-facts about the game.
That information will then be recorded, posted and relayed to the newly founded golf lobby “We Are Golf” who, armed with the new knowledge, will go to work badgering our elected officials on Capitol Hill for more of the niceties that the federal government has to offer (i.e. money).
Admittedly, at first glance this appears a pretty trivial, hopeless, and painfully boring way of accomplishing something that probably won’t work, but recent numbers churned out by the census and it’s counterparts actually bring to light some surprisingly interesting information.
For example, in the last wide scale survey, “We Are Golf” reported that in 2005 the golf industry took in $75.9 billion, more money than the motion picture and video industry.
The golf industry also creates (indirectly and directly), almost double the amount of jobs that the telecommunications industry does and more careers than the broadcasting, motion picture, and publishing industries combined. In 2006, Florida attributed over 160,000 of its jobs directly due to the popularity of golf in the state, a figure that continues to grow annually.
It really is amazing to see how this silly game we all love to hate acts as the vehicle towards prosperity for so many people and communities all around the nation.
Take the example of a little golf course in a small town in New York; Lenox Hills Country Club was the course and Farmingdale was the town. Lenox Hills was a failing country club until the local park authority purchased the plot of land in 1930. Two different architects were hired to construct four new golf courses.
That municipal course grew in stature and was so popular that residents demanded another course to be built, and so, in 1958 it was.
Today over 300,000 rounds of golf are played on those municipal courses every year.
One of it’s courses even draws golfers (myself included) from all around the world, all of whom are forced to wait in line in the cold, dark hours of the morning just in hopes of getting tee time. The name of that course? Bethpage Black, host of the 2002 and 2009 United States Open Championships.
Stories similar to that of Bethpage are not uncommon because golf has a history of canonizing players who give back to the game and their community. While icons in other sports are worshipped for their ability to buy expensive cars and negotiate large contracts, the game that demands character holds its players to a higher standard. Tiger Woods has his foundation, as does Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Ernie Els.
Bobby Jones, who some argue is golf’s best ever player, remained an amateur his entire career and thus never accepted a dime of his winnings. Arnold Palmer was in 2004 bestowed the Presidential Medal of freedom, and every year Golf’s Professional tours contribute $130 million dollars to charity around the globe.
Golf is more than just a game. It demands character from its players and in return offers not just a fun few hours, but lessons about life and a strong center that countless communities have been built around.
So, as cheesy as it may sound, in taking three minutes to fill out your American Golf Census form, you are not just declaring support for your favorite hobby, but you are registering a belief that sometimes life’s most complicated questions, like unemployment and recession, can be aided by something so simple as trying to hit a ball in a hole.