Per gallup.com, the typical sample size for a Gallup poll is 1,000 national adults with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. Tests have shown that the accuracy of estimates only marginally improves with larger sample sizes.
For the Great Canadian Golf Survey put on by the St. Marys Golf & Country Club, we received detailed responses from 50 esteemed golfing fanatics on our mailing list. Similar to the Gallup example above, these 50 completed surveys (62% male and 38% female) provide an interesting and meaningful view of our sport from the perspective of the southwestern Ontario golfer.
I’ve broken down the questions into four categories:
Thanks to everyone who participated, and I hope that you all find the results and conclusions to be interesting reading.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU PLAY GOLF? (WHEN IN SEASON)
3x a week: 26%
2x a week: 24%
1x a week: 16%
4x a week: 12%
5x a week or more: 8%
CONCLUSION: 70% of our respondents play golf at least 2x per week during the season. Due to our seasonal weather patterns, we try and cram in as much golf as we can during the warm months.
HOW DO YOU COPE IN THE CANADIAN WINTERS WITH RESPECT TO GOLF? Take a break from golf and take in winter activities instead: 56% Try and get south to play a few rounds: 40% Spend the winter down south: 4% CONCLUSION: Consistent with the conclusion above, most Canadians get their golf fix in during the warmer months and focus less on the game in the winter when there are other great sports like hockey and curling to play.
WHY DO YOU PLAY GOLF? I love the challenge the game presents: 38% It's a great way to spend time with good friends: 28% I love trying to beat my best score: 22% I love being outdoors: 10% I love the feeling of a well-struck shot: 2% CONCLUSION: There are a lot of great reasons to enjoy the game of golf.
WHEN YOU SHOW UP AT AN AWAY COURSE AS A SINGLE, WOULD YOU PREFER TO? Get joined up with a threesome and meet some new people: 71% Play as a single: 29%
CONCLUSION: Generally we Canadians are quite a social group of people who enjoy some company while golfing, even if it is someone we’ve never met before.
WHAT’S YOUR HANDICAP? / DO YOU MAINTAIN A HANDICAP INDEX? The average handicap (or average number of strokes over par on a good day, for those who don’t have a handicap) of our survey respondents was 19, and the median handicap was 18. 19% of the respondents had a single-digit handicap. 54% of respondents maintain a handicap index while 46% do not.
WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL 150-YARD GOLF CLUB?
7-iron or 8-iron: 40%
Mid-to-long iron (6-iron or more): 28%
Some kind of wood: 24%
9-iron or less: 8%
CONCLUSION: There are a lot of different ways to get there, the key is to hit it straight!
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HOLE-IN-ONE?
Yes, one: 18%
Yes, three or more: 10%
Yes, two: 6%
CONCLUSION: Who are these people with 3 or more hole-in-ones? They need to share some of their good fortune with the rest of us.
WHAT SHOT MAKES YOU THE MOST NERVOUS?
Any shot over water: 22%
First tee shot of the day: 22%
A long bunker shot: 20%
A short putt in a close match: 20%
Hitting in front of strangers: 14%
CONCLUSION: I’ve never seen such an even distribution of answers in a five-option survey in my life. Golf is obviously a very complex game if so many different situations get different people nervous.
WHAT AREA TO YOU NEED TO IMPROVE TO SHOOT LOWER SCORES?
Short game and putting: 60%
Mid-to-long irons and woods: 8%
Swing mechanics: 8%
Course management: 8%
CONCLUSION: The word is out: Drive for show, Putt for dough.
WHAT’S YOUR SHOT SHAPE?
I’ve got all the shots: 20%
CONCLUSION: I’m surprised at how even the distribution is on this one also. I would have expected to see a greater percentage of fades and slices. It’s also interesting to see that half of our respondents either hit the ball straight or claim to hit whatever shot they want.
Some of the questions in our survey were duplicate questions asked by GOLF Magazine in their 2009 Survey of the American Golfer. For these questions it will be interesting to see the differences between the Canadian and American perspectives.
HOW MANY DRINKS DO YOU CONSUME IN A TYPICAL ROUND? None: 58% in our survey (67% in USA per GOLF Magazine) 1-2 drinks: 28% in our survey (22% in USA) 3-4 drinks: 12% in our survey (8% in USA) CONCLUSION: Canadians can drink more than Americans. Tell us something we didn’t already know!
WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST ON-COURSE PEEVE? Slow players: 80% in our survey (64% in USA per GOLF Magazine) Poor course conditions: 8% in our survey (12% in USA) CONCLUSION: Canadians like to play fast golf.
IF GIVEN $3,000 TO SPLURGE ON YOUR GAME, HOW WOULD YOU SPEND IT? A golf getaway at an exotic location, like Hawaii or Ireland: 62% in our survey (38% in USA) Golf school/series of lessons with Butch Harmon: 20% in our survey (44% in USA) A new set of custom-fitted clubs: 14% in our survey (15% in USA) At the 19th hole: 4% in our survey (1% in USA) CONCLUSION: Canadians see the value in travelling to other countries to play golf WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE MAJOR TO WATCH? The Masters: 80% in our survey (77% in USA) The British Open: 10% in our survey (7% in USA)
The U.S. Open: 6% in our survey (14% in USA)CONCLUSION: The Masters is universally loved, while the second-favorite in Canada is the Open Championship versus the Americans favoring their national championship.
We also included the Canadian Open in our survey which collected 4% of the vote.
IS PEBBLE BEACH WORTH PLAYING ONCE, FOR $495? YES: 28% in our survey (44% in USA) NO: 72% in our survey (56% in USA) CONCLUSION: $495 is a lot of money to pay for a round of golf, even for Pebble Beach.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PROFESSIONAL GOLFER OF ALL-TIME:
Jack Nicklaus – 10 votes
Mike Weir – 6 votes
Phil Mickelson – 5 votes
Fred Couples – 4 votes
Tiger Woods – 4 votes
Bubba Watson – 3 votes
Arnold Palmer – 3 votes
*One vote each went to an impressive cross-section of golfers from different eras, including Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Greg Norman, Moe Norman, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell, and Keegan Bradley.
CONCLUSION: The Golden Bear is still the greatest on this list, followed by our two favourite lefties.
IT’S TIGER WOODS VS. PHIL MICKELSON IN THE FINAL ROUND OF A MAJOR. WHO DO YOU CHEER FOR:
Phil – 56%
Tiger – 28%
No preference – 16%
CONCLUSION: It’s Phil by a two-to-one margin. Not surprising.
WHO DO YOU TYPICALLY ROOT FOR IN THE RYDER CUP:
USA – 52%
Europe – 48%
CONCLUSION: This was an interesting one. The USA are our neighbours and allies. Europe is where most of our ancestors originally came from. There are many good reasons to cheer for either side.
WHAT GOLF COURSE IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO PLAY:
Augusta National – 53%
Pebble Beach – 12%
Others – 12%
CONCLUSION: No big surprises here.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CANADIAN GOLF COURSE:
Glen Abbey – 4 votes
Redtail – 2 votes
National Golf Club – 2 votes
Innerkip Highlands – 2 votes
Ironwood – 2 votes
*A wide variety of courses received one vote each, covering the spectrum from local courses like Science Hill and the Fox to world-famous courses like Banff Springs and Royal Montreal.
CONCLUSION: Everyone’s golf universe is completely different. We have all had a unique set of experiences trying to get the golf ball in the hole.