Sports Minister backs EGP drive to grow golf

Sports Minister David Evennett

Sports Minister David Evennett is backing the England Golf Partnership’s (EGP) drive to grow golf and get more people playing.

He spoke of the Government’s commitment to increase participation at a reception in the Palace of Westminster yesterday, hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Golf Group on behalf of the EGP.

With the Ryder and Walker Cups on display, Parliamentarians and key figures from across the golf industry discussed ways to attract more people to play golf and encourage them to play more often.

The Minister urged those present to use the game’s current high profile to showcase and promote the sport. “I do believe we must do more to promote the game and to develop it further,” he said.

He went on: “Golf enjoys a high profile at the moment, following Danny Willett’s brilliant success at the Masters and its inclusion in the Olympics later this summer. It’s a great opportunity to highlight the sport and promote it to a worldwide audience of millions,” he said.

The Minister spoke of golf’s huge popularity, as the country’s fifth most-played sport, its tremendous reach across all backgrounds and abilities, and its part in supporting the Government’s sports strategy to tackle inactivity.

“It is clear to me and to the Government that the benefits of golf are very far reaching,” he said, listing its massive contribution to the economy, to environmental issues and to individual and community wellbeing.

“Golf is a very good community sport which is why the government is committed to increasing golf participation,” he said as he urged his audience to “Keep doing what you are doing. Golf is a very, very important part of our society and our country and one of the great sports our country can offer.”

The EGP brings together the amateur governing body, England Golf, and the Professional Golfers’ Association to grow the game with the support of the Golf Foundation, other industry partners and Sport England funding. It co-ordinates the development of golf in schools, local communities, clubs, counties and in talent pathways to national teams.

EGP chairman Nic Coward remarked: “Our role is to bring the whole sport together to make our case, not just to Parliamentarians, but also to people from all walks of life around the country. We want to encourage them to play and, indeed, to play golf more often.”

He went on: “I think we can do a lot to hit the Government’s agenda on physical and mental wellbeing, and individual and economic development.”

Initiatives include the Get into golf campaign, supported by Sky Sports, which offers great value coaching courses with PGA professionals for beginners and returners. It aims to bring 500,000 new or lapsed golfers across the UK into the sport by the end of 2018.

Research into new approaches and ways to overcome the barriers to playing has also led to the national launch of Golf Express which promotes the nine-hole game to busy people.

The All-Party Parliamentary Golf Group comprises Members of all major political parties and from both Houses of Parliament and has the singular remit to “support the sport of golf.” Both England Golf and the PGA are supporters of the Group. Yesterday’s reception was hosted by Group Vice-Chairman and MP for Colne Valley, Jason McCartney.

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