Adult participation rates as measured by Sport England’s Active People Survey are below the agreed target for 2011-13 and, following discussions with the EGP, Sport England has reduced its funding by £107,023 for that period.
However, the amended level of £616,977 of National Lottery Revenue funding available for 2011-13 is positive news for golf. This funding (part of more than £12.5 million from Sport England for 2009-13) will be invested through County Golf Partnerships to deliver against the plan with the overall aim of getting 907,339 people playing golf once a week by April 2013.
Sport England’s Active People Survey shows that the number of adults playing golf at least once a week has declined from 948,300 at the start of the funding period to 852,100 at the latest update.
There are encouraging signs for the future. Following concentrated effort by the EGP to support grass roots golf since 2009, the Active People Survey also shows increased participation in the 16-24 age group, which builds on huge increases in the number of schools now offering golf to their students. The latest 852,100 figure of once-a-week golfers also reveals around a 49,000 increase from the previous measurement, indicating an upward trend after a difficult economic period for many people.
The EGP has responded to the challenge of increasing adult golf participation by developing a clear plan to grow the game that puts the grass roots players first. It has recognised the need to invest more in creating the right kind of opportunities to play golf around the country, and, using market segmentation, will pilot a social golf product initially aimed at younger males over the summer. The project will be expanded to other target groups later.
The additional investment in the County Golf Partnership structure will enable the EGP to deliver a single message for golf, and target those counties where they believe there is the greatest capacity to increase golf participation.
The EGP’s Chief Operating Officer, Roger Moreland, said: “Golf is proving ever more popular in schools and we have seen this level of interest sustained through increased participation in the 16 to 24 age group. We have developed a clear plan to encourage more adults to play the game and we look forward to bringing this to fruition with the continued support of Sport England.”
Sport England’s Satisfaction Survey for golf is also encouraging. The sport achieved a rating of 81.8 for 2011, an improvement on the 2010 figure which was 80.4.
The Active People Survey for 2011 shows that golf among the over 30s age group has seen decreased numbers in the last year. The EGP’s own findings for the year 2010 (2010 Golf Club Membership Questionnaire) indicate that club memberships felt the detrimental effect of the recession. In 2011 however, many clubs have responded vigorously to this challenge, offering more flexible membership packages to meet the needs of modern consumers, and more than 1,000 clubs have now attained or are working towards beginner-friendly GolfMark accreditation (many starting this process in the last year). With English players ranked 1 and 2 in the world more people will be inspired to play for the first time and many inactive golfers will be persuaded to return to the game.
Sport England’s Chief Executive, Jennie Price, said: “We welcome the increased priority now being given by the England Golf Partnership to increasing participation among those aged 16 and over. The governing body has done good work in bringing children into the game, and has now committed to bringing the same focus to its work with the adult game. We will continue to support the EGP as it invests in the future of the sport, and have confidence that our investment will deliver results.”
The EGP is a partnership between the English Golf Union, the English Women’s Golf Association and the PGA with the support of the Golf Foundation and Sport England.
* A copy of the Active People Survey is available at www.sportengland.org