The number of people taking up ‘Get into golf’ opportunities grew rapidly over the summer months, according to a new report on grass roots activity across England. Over 24,000 people, aged 14-plus, were encouraged by counties to take structured coaching courses and to become regular, once-a-week golfers in the six months from April to September 2014.
That’s up by 59% on the same period in 2013, says the latest Impact Report on county activity, prepared by England Golf’s Participation and Club Support department. The figures reflect a new focus by counties on delivering structured coaching and regular playing opportunities, rather than one-off taster sessions. This approach is supported by the England Golf Strategic Plan for 2014-17 which sets out to inspire people of all ages to make golf a part of their life and aims to reverse the trend of declining club membership.
Claire Roberts, England Golf’s Head of Participation, commented:
“We have been very encouraged by the results from this new approach and the closer partnerships which are being created between our county officers and clubs. We know there is enormous interest in playing golf and, by working together in this way, we can offer more opportunities for people to become regular golfers and club members.”
The figures are beating targets set by the England Golf Partnership (EGP), which invests in 32 counties to support grass roots golf and grow participation. The results will also be measured by Sport England’s Active People Survey which is due out at the end of January.
The report emphasises the club-centred approach adopted by counties and the additional support available through England Golf initiatives such as GolfMark and the Clubhouse online resource. It also outlines a new two-year pilot programme using additional investment and resources to increase membership and participation which is being tested in Northamptonshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. The report details: Over 62,000 people, aged over 14, were involved in activity in the six months; a 16% increase in 2014. Over 24,000 took part in structured activity (59% increase) and more than 13,700 people became regular, once a week players (83% increase). Of these, 39% are women, which the report describes as encouraging when compared to the overall number of female golfers in Great Britain (13%). The Get into golf programme involves over 400 facilities offering opportunities for beginners, improvers and returners to the game.
The Get into golf website continues to be developed and in 2015 all golf clubs will have an opportunity to promote their sessions and membership offers on the website www.getintogolf.org A total of 4,139 new club memberships were reported. These could include juniors but, based on an average full playing adult golf club membership fee of £846, could equal an investment of over £3.5 million over six months. Twenty-eight counties ran specific projects for disabled participants. Seven focus counties received additional support to create quality opportunities for disabled people to enter and progress in golf. A further 10 counties have been selected to receive this support from 2014-2016.