The University of Ottawa is partnering with the Golf Association of Ontario (GAO) in the first research study to measure the value of offering coaching and long-term athlete development programs at golf clubs, both in terms of player development and financial viability.
Under the leadership of Norm O'Reilly (professor of sport business in the Faculty of Health Sciences), Mike Kelly (Director of Sport Development at the Golf Association of Ontario) and Jeff Overholt (PGA of Canada member), the project is collecting data from selected PGA of Canada coaches and golf club operators to better understand the impact of a youth-based club system on long-term athlete development. The year-long research project will also use selected Junior Golf Development Centres (JGDC), which provide junior golfers between the ages of 6 18 with a developmental pathway and proper coaching support, as case studies to determine the economic impact and financial feasibility of JGDCs for golf facilities.
Since Junior Golf Development Centres are in their infancy, we must still convince club owners and operators of the benefits and sustainability of a youth-based development system in golf, explained Professor O'Reilly. This study will help show club owners and operators that adopting the JGDC framework at their facility will improve the quality of their facility and improve their bottom line.
The study will evaluate JGDCs' ability to generate revenue in key areas such as tee time bookings and membership. Quantifying the economic benefits of JGDCs will help ensure facility fees paid to clubs are minimized and help create full-time coaching careers for PGA of Canada members. This in turn will improve the performance of Canadian golfers at the amateur and professional level. The research will also examine whether the emergence of JGDCs will increase the number of players in Canada.
The goal is to identify a system which can provide support to players demonstrating a desire and high level of competency while fostering a life-long passion for golf, says Mike Kelly, Director of Sport Development at the Golf Association of Ontario. By bringing in the JGDC framework to golf clubs, we'll be helping grow the sport at the grassroots level.
Preliminary research results were presented at the 2012 Ontario Golf Coaches Summit on Developing Junior Golfers through Coaching from March 27-29 in Niagara-on-the-Lake.