Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Golf, Health and Missed Opportunities

When the GUI and ILGU launched their ’Golf and Health Week’ campaign in the middle of March, it received good exposure in the golf media. This is no doubt on the back of the campaign being an R&A initiative and it being endorsed by big-name golfers including Padraig Harrington, Zach Johnson, and Annika Sorenstam.

That ‘Week’ has arrived and it started yesterday. The initiative is running immediately after the Masters and before Easter… just one of the times when golfers come out of full hibernation. Coincidence? It seems unlikely. The golfing public are paying attention, especially in light of Tiger’s remarkable come-back victory.

It is no surprise that the objective of the campaign is to get golfers of all hues to
participate in the sport, but another driving force is also at work: there is medically-based evidence that golf is good for body and mind. Medical research, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has established that golfers live on average five years longer than non-golfers. 

This stems from the work of the Golf and Health Project, which has studied the many and varied health and wellbeing benefits of golf since 2016.

The ‘Golf and Health Week’ is therefore designed to highlight the advantages of playing golf. Consider the physical benefits (aerobic, muscle strengthening, cardiovascular) and the mental benefits (wellness and self-esteem). All were acknowledged in the research and all improve your overall health. And let’s not forget the simple benefits of being outdoors and socialising.

Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A, said of this week’s campaign: “It is important that we continue to promote golf as an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities and demonstrate that playing golf can provide significant benefits for the health and wellbeing of those who participate in sport.”

The campaign is being promoted through digital and social media channels. The GUI and ILGU started doing that over the weekend by encouraging people to get involved and post their activities and progress online. More communications will be sent out this week… but a trick has been missed. This was a chance to get golf clubs on-side a few weeks ago, encouraging them to run events and communicate with members… as well as prospective new members. Leaving it just to digital and social media when the core audience of golfers is the older generation feels like a wasted opportunity. Yes, we want to see younger people engaging with the game and, indeed, we want to encourage these people to take up golf, but you can’t sidestep the biggest percentage of golfers. The GUI and ILGU emailed their databases with the details but the message doesn’t appear to have landed in the right inbox. Of the 25 golf clubs contacted for this article to see how they were supporting the initiative only one had heard about it prior to the weekend.

That seems disappointing, especially as several of these clubs responded by saying they wished they had known as they would have organised some relevant activities. 

There is still time… just about… but the online response will be the proof of how successful and interactive this initiative is. And the GUI and ILGU’s online push is now starting in earnest.

The Irish ‘Golf and Health Week’ campaign will include the following health-related themes, available through social media channels and, specifically, through 

·     Monday: Podcast with Robbie Cannon and Mary Doyle, has been combined with general messages around golf and health. You can find this online at
·     Tuesday: There was a piece on mental health and golf, mindfulness and golf for health.
·     Wednesday: Learn how golf reaches different audiences with a member of the Irish Blind Golf Team – Carol Brill.
·     Thursday: Watch a Golf4Girls4Life video, including a 72 year old woman and a 12 year old girl who won the club winter league together
·     Friday: CTA messaging for clubs and players to submit their step counts – a number of golfers are lined up to get that started.

As this week progresses the GUI and ILGU will be asking followers to share and Tweet their step counts and calories burned. The key aim is to encourage these golfers to play a round at their local club over the Easter Weekend. Anyone interested in participating should use the #GolfHealthWeekhashtag and follow @GUIGolf and/or @IrishLadiesGolf on Twitter. Look them up on Facebook, too.

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