England Golf is celebrating progress on its strategy, Raising Our Game, at its two-day annual conference – and looking to the future.
The opening session higlighted a host of achievements and the news that the decline in golf participation appears to be stabilising – with the first signs of growth in some areas.
England Golf Chief Executive Nick Pink, who has been in post for exactly a month, told delegates he was inspired by the achievements of the past year and paid tribute to volunteers, partners and staff. “I am really excited being here and about the opportunities ahead,” he said.
“We know things are starting to work and move in the right direction, but we can’t rest on our laurels, we still have a lot of hard work to do.
“It’s about putting golf at the heart of everything we do and knowing what golf means to people involved in the game and those not involved in the game.”
He went on: “I passionately believe that we have great potential with families and young people. My 3½-year-old son has the golf bug! I promise I won’t push him but it’s a great game which brings us together, and as a youngster growing up I had a lot of fun playing golf with my grandfather.”
Raising Our Game has seven key themes to grow the game including more players, more members and stronger clubs; as well as winning golfers, outstanding championships, an improved image and excellent governance. Delegates were updated on progress with a presentation which featured initiatives including:
- The Get into Golf campaign, which is to be supported by Sky Sports. It offers all clubs the opportunity to upload their beginners’ sessions and courses on to the website. Last year 760 clubs took advantage of this, the website received 800,000 hits and almost 3,900 Get into Golf participants took up some form of club membership.
Sky Sports’ support for the campaign was announced on Tuesday and Julian Sheldon, their senior PR manager, told delegates that greater exposure of the campaign will broaden the reach of golf to all sports fans. “This goes back to the ethos of Sky Sports to drive participation in all sports at all levels,” he said.
- Golf Express, which piloted in Staffordshire to promote nine-hole golf to time-poor and unattached golfers, and has proved a huge success.
- Projects to attract women and girls, such as support for Sports Publications’ #ThisGirlsGolfs video campaign to change perceptions; and Girls Golf Rocks, run with the Golf Foundation, which uses county girl players as mentors to inspire and encourage new girl players.
- Examples of working in partnership were outlined by Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, and Sandy Jones, Chief Executive of the PGA, who summed up: “Everyone is in this together. We all want more people playing the game playing more often and becoming members of golf clubs.”
The conference includes workshops on a wide range of topics include speeding up the game, shorter formats, creating and developing talent and protecting the sport. The England Golf Awards – to golfers and clubs who make the game great – will be presented at a gala dinner.
Caption: Nick Pink address conference delegates (Image © Leaderboard Photography).