Golf clubs have taken advantage of the deconfinement to fill up with new fans under the age of 40, an encouraging sign for the future of sport in Quebec.
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“The clientele of 7 to 15 year olds has exploded, but it is the 18-35 year olds who have been the big surprise. They have invaded the courses, ”notes the president of the Association des clubs de golf du Québec (ACGQ), Martin Ducharme.
This unforeseen traffic is a balm for an industry that has suffered greatly from the cancellation of golf tournaments and events of all kinds due to the health crisis.
For example, the Sainte-Marguerite golf club in Sept-Îles has twice as many members aged 40 and under, and four times as many student members as last year.
The increase is also being felt at the Le Portage golf club, located in L’Assomption, in Lanaudière. “The field of practice has never been so full”, confirms with good humor its general manager, Dany Rousseau.
The 44-year-old took a turn four years ago to woo younger players and families.
“The average age was starting to be worrying … To ensure the future of golf, we had to move. “
He therefore undertook an overhaul of the fee schedule, in addition to giving unlimited access to the field of practice, designing packages for young families and organizing unifying events.
“Players change, and golf courses that don’t adapt [à leurs besoins] will be the next to close, ”predicts the CEO.
Proof of its success, the club’s attendance has increased by 15-20% during the season. It also counts among its members the Montreal Impact player Samuel Piette, 25, and the gold medalist in snowboarding Sébastien Toutant, 27.
The help from the provincial government that fell from the sky at the start of the season did not affect this recruitment either.
From then on, it was seen as a safe sport.
“It was one of the only activities I felt comfortable doing because of the distance. You bring your own set, there is no stress on the COVID side, ”illustrates Jessica Touchette, 25, who started attending the greens last summer with her boyfriend.
It is thanks to these characteristics that the industry has been able to experience “a dream season”, while respecting public health protocols, believes Mr. Ducharme, also general manager of the Château Bromont golf club.
“Pandemic or not, distancing is part of golf’s DNA. You can’t be next to someone, you’ll get hit with a stick! “
However, others have not had the same luck despite the deconfinement.
“It really caused a huge reduction,” put Nadia Di Menna of Le Versant golf course in Terrebonne into perspective.
She is far from reassured for the year 2021, due to the unforeseeable impacts of COVID-19 and is concerned for the members of the Quebec chapter of the National Association of Golf Course Owners of Canada, that she represented.
“We don’t know what will happen next year. Yes, we had a good traffic this year with former golfers who have started again, new golfers, a lot of families, golf was very trendy … On the other hand, everything that is corporate and events was not at the appointment and that is very worrying. “
– With the collaboration of Jean-Luc Lavallée, Le Journal de Québec