St Andrews, Scotland: Golf could hold the key to tackling Europe’s current epidemics of physical inactivity, obesity and low youth participation in sport.
While the world’s best golfers competed in last week’s 144th Open Championship, major organisations from the European golf sector gathered with researchers at the University of St Andrews in an effort to better describe the health benefits of golf, and to explore ways to increase participation.
The new GoGolf Europe project has successfully secured co-funding from the European Commission under Erasmus+, the EU programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport for 2014-2020.
Golf Business News reported that the project will unite five European countries – the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, the Netherlands and Portugal – in a three-year initiative designed to test innovative new access pathways to golf for European youth while also documenting the unique health benefits which the sport can provide to all people.
Richard Heath, General Secretary of the European Golf Association (EGA), the organisation leading the project, said: “Europe has excellent capacity for golf with over 6,700 courses and some 7.9 million citizens already playing the sport. Nonetheless, we are facing significant challenges in effectively engaging young people to take up the sport and we are actively seeking innovative new solutions for growing youth participation.”
In conjunction with the EGA, the project will unite the National Golf Governing Bodies of the five participating countries alongside the PGAs of Europe, the European Observatoire of Sport and Employment and the University of St Andrews as the official research partner.
Alongside the funding support from the European Union, co-financing will also be provided by the PGA European Tour and the EGA.
Dr Rehema M White, of the University of St Andrews’ Sustainable Development Department, said: “Europe is currently experiencing a crisis in physical inactivity and we are going to focus on showcasing and documenting the particular contributions which golf can make to overcoming these worrying trends.
“The GoGolf project unites an excellent group of partner organisations with real potential to deliver positive and impacting change for the industry and we are very much looking forward to collaborating and providing support from the research perspective over the next three years.”
Current rates of physical inactivity are worryingly high, as evidenced by the 2014 Eurobarometer report on Sport and Physical Activity which found that:
-59% of EU citizens never or seldom exercise or play sport at least once a week
-Almost three-quarters of EU citizens (74%) say that they are not members of any club, a 7% increase since 2009.
Alongside the GoGolf Europe project, representatives from the University of St Andrews will take part in further meetings concerning the growing global research agenda around the health and well-being benefits of golf participation. One such area of synergistic collaboration will be with scientists at the University of Edinburgh.
Dr White said: “Amongst all sports, golf offers a unique suite of health opportunities. The aim of our research is to help us understand how to encourage young people to take up sport in general, and golf in particular, to improve their health and well-being.”
The EGA represents golf throughout Europe and works on behalf of 46 member countries and their respective National Golf Associations. Approximately 7.9 million European citizens play golf in an industry that contributes over €15.1 billion to the European economy.
Singapore: The spotlight will return to conditioning of golf course putting surfaces when the Asian Golf Industry Federation’s Sustainability Series of webinars continues next week.