The surge in popularity is shown by the latest figures from Sport England’s Active People Survey and reflects a growing national enthusiasm for sport as the London Olympics draw near.
For the first time, more than 15 million people in England, aged 16 and over, are playing sport once a week, every week. That’s 500,000 more than six months ago and 1.3 million more than in 2005/6 whenLondonwon the Olympic bid.
Golf is among 21 sports which have shown a positive trend over the past six months and the results indicate that the long-term, downward trend in golf participation may be reversing.
The sport is reaping the benefit of the work of the England Golf Partnership (EGP) and its network of County Golf Partnerships which reach out at grass roots level to attract new golfers and returners to the game.
Roger Moreland, the Partnership’s chief operating officer, welcomed the results and said: “Golf is heading in the right direction. The results are encouraging and reflect the hard work of all those working within the grassroots game.
“We have responded to earlier, disappointing results by understanding the needs of golfers and developing improved plans to keep people playing regularly. But there is still more work to be done, particularly to encourage young adults.”
The EGP is a partnership of England Golf, the new amateur governing body which represents both men and women, and the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA). It is supported by the Golf Foundation and funded by Sport England.
John Petrie, the chief executive of England Golf, commented: “Sport England funding has played a crucial role in the ability to generate new participants into golf and these results show that golf is using that funding to good effect.
“We must not be complacent and the wet spring and summer brings its own challenges, but these results show that the structures and initiatives in place are working and starting to bring results.”
Sandy Jones, the chief executive of the PGA, remarked: “I was delighted to learn of such a significant increase in the number of people who are enjoying golf on a regular basis.
“I know our PGA professionals in clubs and golf ranges throughout the country work really hard to encourage more people to enjoy the game and these numbers give evidence that this hard work is producing positive results for their efforts.”
England Golf www.englandgolf.org