The R&A has appointed former tour professional Zane Scotland as a diversity ambassador to support the development of initiatives that encourage more people from ethnically diverse communities into golf.
As part of the new partnership, Scotland is assisting with the interpretation of research to understand the challenges that exist for ethnically diverse communities and identify actions that can be taken to break down barriers and make golf more welcoming and appealing.
He will also play an important role in engaging with active golf societies including British Black Golfers and the Muslim Golf Association to foster valuable relationships and generate involvement in future activity.
Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said: “Our research is clearly showing that powerful role models like Zane are influential in encouraging more people from ethnically diverse backgrounds into golf and creating more positive perceptions of what the sport can really offer to participants.
“Zane’s knowledge and experience will be invaluable in informing education for the industry and developing initiatives that proactively position the sport as inclusive for everyone who wants to play it, not only on the course but also the many other alternative forms of golf off the course that are crucial to attracting new participants from all backgrounds. We look forward to working with him.”
A five-part video series for YouTube has been created to highlight the positive benefits of golf as a sport for everyone and will feature Zane and his father Bernie; the work of British Black Golfers and the Muslim Golf Association; Zane introducing his cycling group to golf; and the perspectives of elite amateur golfers making their way in golf.
Scotland added: “I have said before that golf needs more diversity and challenged those running the game to step up and address the imbalance. I’m really encouraged to see The R&A taking the initiative and making positive steps forward in this area.
“I see our partnership as another means to build on the good work already being done by the likes of the Golf Foundation and within golf societies to open up the sport. I know that there is still a long way to go but I firmly believe that golf stands to benefit greatly if we can change perceptions and show that it is a fun and welcoming activity for everyone.”
As an amateur golfer, Scotland made a name for himself by becoming the youngest ever English golfer to qualify for The Open and earn a place in the Championship at Carnoustie in 1999. In the three years that followed he went on to win amateur championships and gain representative honours in the Great Britain & Ireland teams that won the St Andrews Trophy and Jacques Léglise Trophy.
In 2003, he turned professional but a car crash that resulted in an injury to his neck halted his progress. He recovered to earn a place on the European Tour and more recently has won ten times on the MENA Tour, the most by any player. He made his second appearance in The Open at St Andrews in 2010.
He set up the Zane Scotland Academy to assist in coaching aspiring amateur and elite professional golfers and covers golf as a commentator with Sky Sports and BBC.