In just over a month, and hopefully the weather is kinder than it was on Wednesday, a group of us will gather north of Toronto for a memorial golf tournament in honour of a longtime buddy who left us far too early in life.
The players in the field that day have known one another for decades, in many cases back to elementary and high school, or by seeing one another at the local rink or baseball diamond or football field.
Back in those formative years, we figured once we reached age 65, we’d be more likely to be snoring during a nap than pulling a driver from a golf bag to tee it up in a tournament that consists of those 65 and over or those just short of retirement age.
Here’s hoping the golf industry doesn’t make the same mistake of deciding the 65 and over crowd should be in a rocking chair. I’ll smile the day of the tournament as I gaze around and watch these elderly duffers monkeying around, just as they did when we were kids.
Golf has, over the past few years, rightfully put the focus on women, juniors etc, in its efforts to grow the game, but new census figures released on Wednesday indicate the industry should also continue paying attention to the age group it considered core golfers 10 to 20 years ago.
Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that more than one in five working Canadians are nearing retirement and there are currently seven million people, or 19 per cent of the population, age 65 and over.
You can read the entire Statistics Canada report here.
There are understandable concerns about labour shortages and the health care system, among other challenges, but the number of people in the 65 and over demographic speak for themselves.
Add to that the fact that Statistics Canada reports that the number of Canadians 85 and over has doubled since 2001 and is projected to triple by 2046. The number of people who play golf over 85 may not be the same as those 20 years younger, but life expectancy continues to rise and seniors are healthier, active and involved for longer these days.
Golf already has it’s game of a lifetime reputation and its health benefits became well-known over the Covid-19 pandemic and many in the 65 and over age group were, and may still be, core golfers. Keeping them involved and having them recruit friends of the same age group is the objective.
Nine hole specials, senior discounts and lessons can keep existing golfers engaged and lure new senior players.
How often those on fixed incomes can play or purchase something will depend on the individual, especially with inflation running wild as it is right now.
The numbers in this demographic, however, are too large to ignore