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The golfing world has gone from strength to strength over recent years, with many achievements and records being celebrated. As a result, according to a recent report by The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) – one of the oldest and most prestigious golf clubs in the world – golf has become a ‘global’ sport. With more than 30,000 golf facilities located in 208 of the world’s 258 countries – highly impressive.
Despite this, 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, unfortunately, the UK and USA have witnessed even higher decreases of 4.3% and 7.9%, respectively. So, how can we make golf more appealing as a family sport today, on par with the ever-popular choices of football and rugby?
How to get the family involved?
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In 2016, golf was included in the Olympic Games for the first time in over 100 years. The sport has seen a spike in spectator attendance at professional events, such as last year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. However, despite the rise in popularity, it seems people’s views towards the sport haven’t changed much at all. People just aren’t as attracted to golf as much as other sports on offer to youngsters today.
Family golf participation, including women’s and girls’ involvement in particular, has been identified as an opportunity for substantial growth in the golf world. Research shows that, in most cases, women are the key decision makers in family life and leisure time, however, it is unlikely women will participate in golf as the year-on-year growth of females playing is considerably less than their male counterparts. It doesn’t bode well for the next generation of golfers.
Why should the family get into golf?
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When families play golf together, there are a number of social benefits for all the family. Not only are parents spending some quality time with their children, but it provides time to get active for everyone, which is key. 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 the sport together (and frequently) enjoy the game significantly more due to the casual game-playing format. The support of parents, makes the game easier and faster, which is highly important when children are learning and want to have fun, rather than compete in an 18-hole golf course, which can be highly intimidating and tedious for a new golfer.
It’s a good lifestyle
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In modern family life, time is of the essence, which means that many families tend to have less free time to take part in sporting activities together and on an everyday basis. As traditional golf can be expensive for the whole family to take up due to having to buy a range of clubs from a golf drivers shop and golf balls, not forgetting membership costs too. However, there are other cheaper and more entertaining alternatives for children, such as crazy golf courses which are dotted around the country, and even golf ranges specific for youngsters and amateurs where clubs are available to borrow for a small price, such as Top Golf.
Make it fun
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It is a known fact that participation rates decline as people get older, because they have fallen out of love with the sport, or are simply bored. However, children that enjoy a sport are more likely to continue to play when they get older. They may even go on to compete professionally – particularly children who take up sports voluntarily. This tends to happen when a child has learned many new skills and formed friendships.
Learn before you get technical
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Often people who are learning to play golf on a golf course are expected to perform well under pressure. Despite the fact they will not have developed the necessary physical and cognitive skills. Therefore, when first starting out, it is important to learn the basics before jumping in at the deep-end. Practising at a golf driving range is a great way to get a feel for the different golf clubs on offer, and getting the hang of swinging a golf club.
Alternatively, family coaching sessions are also a great idea for families wanting to get into the sport as it can offer a fun environment to learn and practise, rather than focusing on complex technical aspects in an artificial environment.
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