On April 23rd the President, Wayne Levy and Executive Director, Ron MacNeill of the Prince Edward Island Golf Association met with the Deputy Minister responsible for Golf Links, David MacKenzie and his senior staff.
The Association explained to the Deputy that the mandate of the Association is to promote and develop the game of golf in the province and that the P.E.I.G.A. represents 23 golf courses and 3000 local members. President Levy reviewed the programs and services delivered by the Association including; competitive golf for amateurs and seniors, Golf in Schools, course rating and handicap services and junior golf programs.
The Association advanced a number of issues on behalf of the membership including:
1. Concern regarding the current state of the industry and downturn in business. The Association noted the announced closure of Beaver Creek and the recent meeting in summer side regarding the future of the Summerside Golf Club. The Association suggested that the golf industry and the Province should collaborate on the development of a new strategic plan for golf. Such a plan should examine the organization of the industry, program funding, sustainability and effective promotion. The Association noted the strong link in P.E.I. between golf and tourism with many courses dependent on non-resident traffic.
2. The Association urged the Province to proceed cautiously on the announced privatization of the four provincial golf courses. While the Association supports privatization it is concerned about the impact on the industry. It suggested that potential new owners or operators must be assessed on their commitment to working with existing courses and evaluated in terms of the value that they will bring to the Island’s golf industry.
3. The Association stressed the need for continued Government support for the golf industry. The industry generates $100 million annually and is a key component of the provinces tourism product. Recent discussion within Golf Canada about the need for greater collaboration nationally among golf industry organizations was noted. The Association also referenced the recent establishment of a new golf federation in Quebec that is intended to strengthen their industries ability to influence government policy and to provide a single vision and coordinated effort to grow the game.
4. On a final point the Association discussed the impact of the just announced HST on Island golf courses. While all of the implications have not been determined the decrease from 15.5 to 14 % offers a small measure of relief for operators who may also benefit from HST rebates on goods purchased for resale.
The meeting was very productive and concluded with a commitment to continued dialogue and discussion. The Association reiterated the fragile state of the Island’s golf industry and the need for cooperation and focus.