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Golfers Spring Forward. Rights of Passage

By: JJ Gowland


Three timely things happened this weekend in the arena of Toronto Golf. An executive of our Royal Canadian Golf Association resigned, and the Toronto Travel and Golf Show and Daylight Savings Time switched the next season into gear. I doubt these happened by coincidence. Perhaps these are all related to time. (Pun intended)

Last Thursday, Stephen Ross, the CEO of the Royal Canadian Golf Association, resigned or was asked to resign. After 30 years of service to the association, he's heading off to other fairways of his life. Some of the reasons for his departure are a mystery, some, such as failing to find a title sponsor for the Canadian Open, are adequate enough reasons to hasten his departure. To be fair, he's not the only one who didn't find a title sponsor for Canada's national tournament. But maybe it was just time that he retired.

The Toronto Travel and Golf Show, which opened on Friday, March 9, typically marks the beginnings of spring and the ensuing adventures of golfers on Southern Ontario courses. The golf show is similar to the starters' green flag at NASCAR races. No one yells, "Gentlemen! Start your engines!" The event harkens to the hearts of both genders. The golf show signage silently screams, "Golfers! Start your drivers!"

As if the show holds the ignition key to area golfers, we traipse into the show, line up to test out a new driver, stop by booths from fantasylands of resort golf locations, and sign up for any and all freebees. We giggle at the booths for the latest training aids, and normally serene adults grin like kids in a candy factory. Which reminds me, a big thank you to the Hershey, Pa., Tourist Bureau for the free chocolates - they were like a fuel additive and kept us going.

To make matters worse for Southern Ontario golfers, Daylight Savings Time kicked in. And like it or not we have President George Bush to thank for the early DST start. I doubt that even he knew there would still be snow on the ground in Southern Ontario, prompting and promoting a higher attendance at the golf show. We can't golf so we might as well go to the show.

We learned many things at the show. Hank Haney, renowned golf trainer, visited our fair city and was here for one day. Representatives from Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Cuba, Barbados, Portugal and other destinations had booths with sparkling pictures of resorts and distant dreams for golf vacations. I say 'distant' because right now we're just dreaming about getting out on our own local courses, which likely won't happen for another 30 days.

The National Golf Course Owners Association, Canada, had a huge area of multi-booths where golfers could sign up for prizes such as stay-and-play packages, free rounds of golf, and play-and-dine deals. I took advantage and signed up for discounts to all the courses I want to play but haven't yet.

I took two Sumo drivers, the squared and the rounded 460, for a test drive. Two shots each. The square is definitely louder. I can't say which is better.

We watched a demo of a new single-bag riding electric golf cart. One straddles the bag and cart as if riding a Harley Davidson. I think helmets for the rider are in order.

There were demo-swing areas, but my avid golfing friend said, "Swinging indoors, hitting a ball into a net 20 yards away doesn't give me any indication of how I'm hitting the ball." That explains why I can't tell you if the Sumo Squared is better than the rounded Sumo 460.

Walking away from the show late Sunday, my show-roaming friend, a single-digit handicap player, and I decided it was more of a travel show than a golf show. Booths we didn't see were for golf books, golf gadgets, or private golf courses promoting memberships.

To make matters worse, the sun shone like a grinning urchin beckoning us outdoors. I wore my old spike-less golf shoes to the show. But metal spikes on the mounds of snow and slippery sidewalk ponds to get into and out of the show building would have been a better choice.

This year, this Southern Ontario golfer's right of passage, from winter to spring, included Daylight Savings Time, an RCGA executive booted out, sunshine happily springing golfers into a new season, and the ticket stub from the Toronto Travel and Golf Show. Been there, done that.

On the news this morning, an announcer said, "Daylight Savings Time kicking in this early, which is supposed to help conserve energy, may only help golf course owners by giving golfers more after work time to play."

And that's a good thing.



Jill J. Gowland has a BA in psychology from McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario, and worked as a psychiatric clinician for five years. Following that she did a 10-year stint in sales and then worked as a marketing manager in the high-tech software and the security/access-control industries.

Before attending university, J.J. served tables in a golf course coffee shop and has been an avid golfer for more than three decades. Jill has been associated with the golf business as a director and shareholder of a privately owned golf course for more than 20 years. Jill studied comedy at Second City, Toronto, has written and directed stage plays, taught improv comedy, is a published poet. She has blogs on www.SandbaggersAnonymous.blogspot.com, has written for Ontario Golf Magazine, and is a golf novelist. Jill lives with a fluctuating handicap in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Her latest book, "Confessions of a Sandbagger," (ISBN 1-4137-5527-4), a trade paperback, was released in December 2004 and is available world-wide and directly from the author. For ordering information, visit www.publishedauthors.net/jjgowland. Also, see Bob Spiwak's review of "Confessions of a Sandbagger" at http://www.cybergolf.com/bookreview/index.asp?newsID=3903.