The Scottish Government is to ‘Provide the Opportunity for Every Family in Scotland to Play Golf' with a new £1 million investment announced at Gleneagles.
• Government backing for Get into Golf, an introductory programme for adults
• Access to quality, affordable coaching for all
Building on the legacy of ClubGolf, the national junior golf programme, The Scottish Government today announced a funding boost of £1m over four years to give ‘the opportunity for every family in the country to play golf.’
With Scotland gripped by Ryder Cup fever ahead of the opening day of competition at Gleneagles on Friday, the Scottish Government has agreed to the additional funding commitment of £250,000 per annum to 2018 to attract new members and a new generation of players into clubs.
Via the new Get into Golf programme for beginner adults, the aim is to provide the 593 clubs affiliated to the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) and Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association (SLGA) with the tools and skills to introduce any adult to the game, irrespective of their background.
The collective ambitions are as follows:
• Introductory programme for adults (Get into Golf)
• Access to quality, affordable coaching for all
• Strong clubs at the heart of their communities
• Continuation of ClubGolf in schools
• Strengthening school-club links
With golf club membership in Scotland in decline since 2004, yet still strong at over 218,000 members, the fresh investment intends to help clubs create a customer focused environment to maximise the retention of children and adults through an extensive club development programme.
In 2013, the SGU, SLGA and Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) established the Get into Golf programme which aims to adapt many of the successful principles from ClubGolf in providing an innovative, fun, welcoming and structured introductory programme for adults, with parents of those children learning the game and women being among the key target groups.
The traditional model of membership is being challenged, as consumers spend their time and money in a different way, with Get into Golf designed to appeal to people who have never played golf but like the idea of trying it, or who would like to get back into the game.
The Get into Golf programme helps clubs attract adult beginners by promoting group coaching sessions run by a PGA professional, PGA assistant or volunteer coaches at their club. From pilot studies, the programme is proven to help clubs introduce beginners to the game through coaching and introductory membership models.
Currently, 60 clubs across Scotland are registered for the Get into Golf initiative, with the fresh Government investment targeted to create more demand across the nation’s plentiful supply of almost 600 courses by encouraging participation to grow the game nationally.
Since its inception in 2003, the Scottish Government has supported the ClubGolf programme, created as a legacy of The 2014 Ryder Cup, with core funding of £500,000 per annum. The investment, which was extended for a four-year period to 2018, has enabled outcomes that are the envy of many sports and golfing nations around the world thanks to the introduction of more than 350,000 school children to golf.
The programme has produced impressive knock-on results with over 71% of the Scottish Golf Academy intake in 2014 coming from the ClubGolf Stage 3 Development Centre programme, while 50% of new male junior golf club members and 61% of female junior golf club members were introduced to the sport through ClubGolf coaching in 2013.
Announcing the new investment, The Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister of Scotland, said: “Scotland is not only the Home of Golf, but it is also the future of golf and this funding will help to introduced yet more youngsters and families to the game.
“We are playing host to one of the greatest sporting events in the world in The 2014 Ryder Cup and we can expect three enthralling days of action as some of the world’s top players go head to head. There is no better platform to inspire a new generation of youngsters and their parents to get involved in a sport that originated in this very country, and the Get into Golf initiative will do just that.
“Bradley Neil is a wonderful example of a youngster who has come through the ranks and is now representing Scotland on a global stage, and he represented Team Europe this week at the Junior Ryder Cup at his home course in Blairgowrie – we need to continue to introduce the next generation of players and champions to the game at an early stage.
“The ClubGolf programme has already encouraged more than 350,000 youngsters to pick up a club and this new funding will not only build on that success, but also look to expand the appeal to families as well.”
Bill Buchan, Chairman of ClubGolf, said: “We have established successful initiatives to support clubs and we need to increase the scale at which we can do this work. There is a fundamental desire to continue with the key ingredients of ClubGolf, namely the school introductory programme and the link to local clubs and facilities.
“We recognise, through the ClubGolf programme, that we have a unique opportunity to attract parents and other family members to the introductory offering. With the Get into Golf initiative, we particularly want to increase the number of women and girls playing golf and focus on the concept of family golf.
“We have 60 clubs registered for the programme so far and we would like to see more getting involved. Golf is a game for everyone and we want to see a culture change at golf clubs, especially given current consumer trends.
“The rate at which consumer behaviour changes has increased significantly in recent years and it’s perhaps no surprise that at many clubs traditional golf club membership is in decline. We believe this investment will accelerate the early progress we have made in supporting clubs to meet the needs of their customers, both now and into the future.”
Find out more about Get into Golf