Make Golf a Family Sport this Summer

Over the years, golf has gone from strength to strength, with many great sporting achievements celebrated in the golfing world. Today, according to a recent R&A report, golf has become a ‘global’ sport, with more than 30,000 facilities located in 208 of the world’s 258 countries. However, despite this, the overall participation levels are on the decline.

In 2017, Sports Marketing Surveys revealed that the number of registered golfers has dropped by 2.4% since 2012 around the world. As well as this, in the UK and USA where the sport is most popular, the countries have witnessed an even higher decrease of 4.3% and 7.9%, respectively. Unfortunately, the decline in sports is most marked between the ages of 16 and 23 – the period during which most individuals complete full-time education and take up work. After this period, it has been found that participation rates continue to decline, but at a slower pace.

To ensure that golf doesn’t lose its prestigious status among the upcoming generations, how can we make golf more appealing as a family sport, on par with the ever-popular football and rugby?

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Family participation in golf has been identified as a key opportunity for significant growth in sport – particularly the involvement of women and girls. However, due to the fact that women’s participation in golf is so low, it is unlikely that mothers will encourage their children to take up the sport, as the year-on-year growth of females playing is considerably less than their male counterparts, especially as research shows that, for the most part, women are the key decision makers in family and leisure time.

Despite golf’s popularity growing, from being included in the Olympic Games for the first time in over 100 years, as well as seeing a spike in spectator attendance at professional events, such as last year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, people’s views towards the sport haven’t changed much over the years – people just aren’t drawn to the sport as much as others. However, there are a number of benefits to playing golf that many are unaware of…

What are the benefits?

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Research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports shows that, from a study of Swedish golfers when compared to national levels of mortality, playing golf regularly leads to a 40% reduction in mortality across men and women in all age groups and socio-economic status. As a result, this equates to an increase in life expectancy of around 5 years for golfers – showing a significant impact on people’s health.

In addition to this, when families play golf together, there are a number of social benefits felt by the whole family. Not only are parents spending key quality time with their children, but it provides time to get active for all members of the family, which is crucial – making it a fun activity to take up as a family sport. It is also a great opportunity to socialise with other families and build relationships – particularly for children.

According to R&A, families that participate in golf enjoy the game significantly more. Casual game-playing formats, with parents supporting, make the game easier and faster, which is highly important when children are learning and want to have fun, rather than compete.

However, increased time constraints in modern family life mean that many families tend to have less time to take part in sporting activities frequently. Although traditional golf can be expensive, especially when paying for an entire family to attend, as well as buying a range of clubs for each person – there are other cheaper and more entertaining alternatives to keep children entertained and to introduce them to the sport, such as crazy golf courses, and even golf ranges where clubs are available to borrow for a small fee, such as Top Golf.

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Therefore, in order to encourage parents to get their children into golf, many golf courses are offering cheaper junior membership costs and sometimes even reduced family tickets. For example, Bolton Golf Club located in North-West England has created a membership option in order to help make golf more accessible for all families in the area. The flexible package enables the entire family to play golf and enjoy their time at the club together.

Specific benefits of the programme include:

25% off membership fees for the first year and no joining fee; complimentary guest green fee vouchers; up to 15% discount on clubhouse food and beverages; full access to the golf course, club and practice facilities; and complimentary golf lesson vouchers and access to weekly junior group lessons.

What can golf courses do to get parents on board?

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Getting parents on board is one of the most important factors to making golf a popular family sport. Golf courses must provide affordable membership costs for all the family, as well as an available crèche to encourage families with younger children.

Additionally, ‘alternative’ leisure programmes aimed at engaging families could include activities for parents and guardians, family-based classes or one-to-one tuition, family open days, and reductions on fees or subsidised passes for families will significantly help the sport increase in popularity, to make it on par with some of the more well-liked and ‘cheaper’ options, such as football, rugby and dance for young children today.

Feature image credit: Dasha Petrenko /Shutterstock

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