For The Good Of The CPGA

The Canadian PGA new player rankings look to be a hit for most.
The Canadian PGA new player rankings look to be a positive step for the association in helping their membership create recognition for themselves.

You might be aware by now (if you are a regular reader or have your ear pointed in the direction of the Canadian golf world) that on Monday the Canadian PGA announced a new ranking system for the top players within their association.

When I got word of the project last Friday courtesy of the CPGA Director of Business Development & Brand, Jeff Dykeman, it took me only minutes to understand that this certainly was a good step forward by the group.

Some (but few) people have been not as agreeable, wondering why you would even bother to spend time and money determining who might be the best player among a group of professionals whose job entails much more than hitting a golf ball for a living, but I think it is a promising development in a sport yearning for more positive things to build on.

“As soon as I heard about it I called my printer to get my ranking added to my business card,” was the reaction of Chris Barber, a CPGA Member and General Manager of The Landings Golf Course & Teaching Centre in Kingston, Ontario. Barber happens to share 8th place on the initial rankings that are based on a three year cycle and he sees it as a positive move for the CPGA for ALL the members, not just those in the top 100 published rankings. “I think anything that can help bring recognition to our members is a good thing,” he added.

And that, my dear reader is undeniably what will be the major driving factors behind the rankings – drawing attention to the 3,700 members of the second oldest Professional Golfers’ Association in the world, one that is celebrating their centennial this year. Anyone in the golf business will tell you that it is tough to get an edge these days and any tools that can help you along in your business are always welcome. That is certainly the case when it comes to this new ranking system.

In working closely with the CPGA Ottawa Zone, as well as members of the the Ontario and Quebec PGA’s over the years, one of things I see they are always struggling to do is to showcase the skills of their members to the golfers in the community. Those skills are many things including the ability to play golf , and play it well. Among the first top 100 list I can see members who played on the Nationwide Tour, the European Senior Tour and even in the 2006 World Golf Championships-World Cup. The rankings provide yet another vehicle to help people recognize that that level of skill is present among the current CPGA membership.

Is it causing that ripple effect in just the first few days? You have to look no further than the Facebook and Twitter messages I have already witnessed to see that golfers have an interest in these rankings; congratulatory messages were flying all over to the players on the first Top 100 list. I even personally saw a couple golfers dropping by their club to congratulate their pro on being ranked.

That said, this ranking will also be a motivation factor for some of the pros as Coppinwood’s Kevin Thistle already pointed out in a Blog for Golf News Now. Currently most of the nine Canadian PGA Zones have very active tournament schedules but none would complain about more participation in events by their membership. As the rankings grow in stature there should be a greater desire for pros to make the published list, pushing them to rekindle their competitive spirit and play more events. Having full fields is also a great benefit to the sponsors involved in those tournaments – of which we are one as the title sponsor of the CPGA Ottawa Zone Players Tour.

I can say personally that something that bolsters tournament play can’t do anything but help keep us involved with the tour. We want to see the pros practicing hard to compete at their best and show their members and other golfers how skilled they are. It reflects well on their abilities as a CPGA Professional and drives respect among the golf community – something you can never have enough of. It also never hurts when it comes to getting the attention of the media as well.

On another angle, in speaking with staff at a few golf equipment manufacturers, they can already see that the rankings list will be useful for them in developing their own sponsored teams of professionals. For companies that strive to be associated with top players in some way this gives them an insight previously unavailable without resorting to the use of anecdotal evidence and a lot of legwork.

Some have speculated that a rankings list for the top 100 golf instructors among the CPGA might be a more important pursuit as a marketing tool for the pros but how exactly could you even attempt to create such a subjective list? It would have the potential to become nothing more than a popularity contest and simply a point of negative conjecture. If you can come up with a fairly objective system I’d be all for that as well but it likely will never be possible.

A ranking of the players, on the other hand, is based solely on a mathematical system rooted in a pre-determined formula. Of course, nothing can be completely perfect and hopefully in time the rankings will award points to more than just the Zone and National Championships and delve into all zone tournaments but at least there is a fair base to begin with. If you have any knowledge of the game at a club professional level, when you see the initial rankings it it is hard to argue the current positions of the players involved, especially when you can clearly see the system used to create it.

Let’s put this all in perspective though – this is simply a proactive step for the CPGA to have these rankings. Nobody is selling this system as the standard that everyone will use to measure the entire ability of the CPGA Pros – playing is just part of what they do. Let’s not overshoot this as a make or break thing for the CPGA. It’s another piece of the puzzle that is life as a club professional.

In essence it is simply helping them fulfill their Mission Statement that says: “The Canadian PGA develops, promotes and supports professionals in the game and business of golf.”

The CPGA has taken their share of hits from critics through the years so what’s the harm in applauding them for something that can benefit their membership by providing a marketing and motivation tool?

Congrats to all involved and I hope that every golf association, on any level, continues to push forward with creative ideas to keep this game progressing. That is basically the principal that the Canadian PGA was formed around in 1911 so seeing them continue to do that one hundred years later is refreshing to witness first hand.

Sure, there will always be challenges ahead for the CPGA, like there is for many other sports organizations, but at least this is a step taken in the right direction.

Hopefully there are more to follow.

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