I am just winding down from five amazing days which I got to spend walking around the Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge, Ontario, for the Manulife LPGA Classic. I’m well-tanned around my neck and arms – basically anywhere that wasn’t shielded from the sun!
My survey team and I used iPads to connect with visitors at the event about their experience and motivations for attending. I had the chance to interact with a lot of die-hard golf fans; and, by the end of the week, I was starting to feel that same thrill in my gut as those little white golf balls flew through the air.
I found a certain zen in watching the ladies play their incredible rounds of golf. All around the players, volunteer marshals would raise their arms into the air (in a vision not unlike a priest in church calling his congregation to order) and a complete hush would fall over the crowds.
Wind speeds, distance, and the club itself are all carefully evaluated by the golfer as she prepares to make her move. Finally, she walks boldly up to the golf ball and strikes – her arm a perfect arch as the golf club comes to rest behind her back. It’s poetic, beautiful, and graceful.
As the golf ball moves closer to its end destination in that tiny, distant, and almost invisible hole, tensions rise and the threat of an uneven surface that could roll a ball in the wrong direction becomes even greater. I admired the elaborate and well-maintained courses available at Whistle Bear.
Although I do not think that I will ever become a golfer myself, I would encourage everyone to attend at least one professional golf tournament in their lifetime. It is a peaceful and very contemplative sports experience!
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Everyone in my immediately family plays golf except for me. They tell me I’m missing out on a lovely experience and the satisfying feeling of hitting the ball down the green. They’re probably right, but I can’t bring myself to support a sport that keeps huge swaths of nature off limits to the general public. I can acknowledge that a city park of the same size would cost a fortune to maintain without the revenue that a golf course brings in, but nevertheless I bemoan the fact that I live adjacent to Rockway Golf Course in Kitchener and can’t enjoy its greenspace. I wish there were a simple solution to this problem.
You’re so right, Andy! When I have my ‘recreation and tourism’ hat on, I only think of those same variables; revenue, engagement, and enjoyment. However, with golf courses as impactful as they are on the local environment, there are a lot of other variables to consider! I wonder if recreation and the environment can ever co-exist in perfect harmony, overcoming the many complexities that you allude to 🙂
I’m not sure we’ll get to a point of harmony. But to start with, it would be so great if community members could at least walk and cycle on the golf course paths before and after open hours and also over the winter! I mean, folks do it anyway, but it’s technically trespassing, right? I hope we can find a way to share these resources.
That would be a really neat way to make use of the golf courses – from what I have seen, they’re very scenic areas. I can’t imagine some of the higher-end courses ever consenting to public use; but the publically run ones, perhaps we can dream? 🙂 These are some great ideas!!