Olympic hero backs ‘Get into golf’ week

Steve Backley

Olympic hero Steve Backley believes would-be golfers can strike gold during Midlands Golf Week.

The three-time javelin medal winner – himself a keen golfer – is supporting the week-long festival which takes place from April 12-22 and makes it even easier for anyone to give the sport a try.

This is one of a series of regional Golf Weeks which will be taking place across the country during April and May. Activities range from free taster sessions and roadshows to open days and low-cost coaching programmes with PGA professionals.

It’s part of the national Get into golf campaign which inspires more people to take up the game and enjoy fresh air, friendship and exercise. Visit the website getintogolf.org for a comprehensive listings guide to all the events.

Backley, a former world record holder, believes the combination of golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016 and the Get into golf campaign can help the sport reach out to a new generation of players.

Backley believes golf offers many benefits to people of all ages and abilities and is urging them to take the chance during Midlands Golf Work to get involved.

He says: “If you are sociable, enjoy competition and the open air, then it’s a no brainer! But be careful though, golf is addictive.

"My advice to anyone thinking of taking up the sport is to play lots and enjoy it. We are all failing golfers – so don’t be intimidated by it.Tee it up, give it a rip and have some friendly banter while you go and find it!”

Backley, who was awarded a MBE and later an OBE, enjoyed a glittering athletics career – he won two silvers and a bronze at the Olympics and is the only British track and field competitor to have won medals at three different Games.

His impressive CV also includes four gold medals at the European Championships, three Commonwealth Games gold medals and two silvers at the World Championships.

But the former Loughborough University student admits he became hooked on golf as soon as he tried it.

Backley explains: “I was in Los Angeles with my training partner Mick Hill. He too me to the Malibu club and it was heaven. I was hooked from day one!

“We played there and then came down to earth with a bump when I came home and played on my local municipal in February. But I still enjoyed it.”

Backley has developed into an accomplished single figure handicap golfer, playing off six at The London club, where he rates the par four 18th as one of his favourite golf holes.

Backley believes events such as Midlands Golf Week are vital to the future development of the sport. “Making golf accessible and for youngsters to be able reach out and touch the sport is imperative to the future of the game,” he says.

“In terms of the Olympics, golf needs to embrace the dedication and meaning of the Games, which has made an Olympic medal so cherished, as tennis has done.”

During Midlands Golf Week clubs from across eight counties – Northamptonshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Rutland – will put golf at the heart of the local community from April 12-22.

East Region Golf Week, involving Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and Middlesex, takes place from April 22-28.

South East Region Golf Week, involving Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey, runs from May 27-June 2

North Golf Week, involving Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland, takes places from April 29-May 5.

In the South West, Cornwall Golf Week runs from 6 April-14 April; Dorset Golf Week takes place from April 15-21; Devon Golf Month starts on May 4.

Meanwhile, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire will join together to run Play in May.

To find your nearest centre visit getintogolf.org and look at the activity map or call 0800 118 2766