Perhaps golfers should be thanking miners

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

As the last leaves fall from the trees and we head into winter, all golfers should perhaps take a little time to thank mining. Yes, before heading to the first tee, or when you are lining up your next putt, or storing your clubs for the winter think about what enables you to play this game. Without mining, there are no pars, birdies or bogeys.

We know mining provides us with the building blocks essential to society in the 21st century. Our modern communications, transportation, electrical, business, health care and educational systems could not exist without products from mining. But mining is also vital to recreation — fun.

Canada, on a per capita basis, has more golfers than any other country in the world. In Canada, approximately six million people play, or attempt to play, golf on a regular basis. In Ontario, there are 2.3 million golfers, more than any other province. Canadians will play 90 million rounds of golf this year and spend more than $1 billion in green fees alone. Add in clothing, equipment, carts, lessons and refreshments for rehydration and it is multi-billion dollar activity.

Golf is big business in Canada. There are about 2,500 golf courses in the country. Each facility has an average of 31 employees – at least on a seasonal basis. Average annual capital expenditures per course can be in the $250,000 range and operating budgets can be more than $500,000 at each course.

So why is there no game without mining? Consider the equipment needed. The implements of the trade, also known as golf clubs, are made from products mined in Ontario. The shafts of clubs contain nickel, tungsten, steel, titanium and graphite. The club heads are crafted from nickel, copper, chromium, steel, aluminum and beryllium.

The ball designed to be hit by these clubs also comes from mining. Though petroleum products are involved, the core of golf balls has zinc and tungsten as ingredients. The industrial facilities that manufacture golf equipment can’t operate without electricity produced from uranium. Nuclear power regularly accounts for more than half of the electricity produced in Ontario.

And what about keeping a golf course playable? Metals are needed for all the cutting and trimming equipment and fertilizer is used to keep golf courses green. While mining can’t take credit for natural water hazards such as creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes, it can take credit for producing the silica that goes into many sand traps around greens and in fairways.

Sand traps! Perhaps this will cause some golfers to reconsider this reminder to thank mining for the game of golf they are playing, or attempting to play.