Golf has won the government’s backing with the announcement from Sport England that it is to receive an £8 million boost over the next four years for the development of the game.
The 88% increase of its annual grant to £2 million represents a major leap forward for the England Golf Partnership, which is planning to increase the number of individuals playing golf by 10% by 2009 and grow the active members of affiliated clubs by 50,000.
Under this new umbrella the three major governing bodies, The Professional Golfers‘ Association, English Golf Union and the English Ladies‘ Golf Association will be working with Sport England to maximise opportunities and meet the challenges facing the game.
In addition to the £2 million annual grant, The England Golf Partnership is also receiving £1.2 million over two years from Sport England through the Department of Culture Media and Sport’s Community Club Development programme for investment into small capital projects from April 2006.
Commenting, Norman Fletcher, manager of The England Golf Partnership said, “This is a welcome fillip for the game and sees the start of a new era for golf in England and the chance to widen participation levels. Thanks to this support we can now make our vision a reality by implementing a pathway of programmes to 2009.
“Contributions from within golf funding the development of the game are currently £6.8 million, which means that we now have nearly £9 million to invest annually in its future. Our focus will therefore be divided into three categories targeting newcomers, club golfers and elite players through our ‘Get into Golf‘, ‘Club England‘ and ‘Team England‘ programmes.
“The additional £1.2 million funding for capital projects is icing on the cake and we now have to review and prioritise our proposals within the Whole Sport Plan with great care and consideration.”
The main thrust of the campaign will be focused on providing more opportunities and reasons for participants to start, stay and succeed in the game. Extensive research will also be commissioned to provide critical benchmarking data from which to evaluate future activities and targets.
Diane Horsley, senior development manager at Sport England added, “Golf in England is really on the up and deserves its rightful place amongst the nation’s top four sports of football, rugby, cricket and tennis.
“The panel were particularly impressed by the approach adopted by the England Golf Partnership and its vision for the game, which has been developed over the last year through consultation and dialogue with their key stakeholders.”
In terms of timing, the England Golf Partnership expects to finalise details of the Whole Sport Plan for Golf and its actual activity programmes over the next two months, culminating with its launch in April.
Sport England www.sportengland.org