Leading opinion formers in golf have given the thumbs up to a major new concept in the way that the English game will be developed in the future.
At a meeting held at The De Vere Belfry on 5th October, nearly 100 ‘stakeholders‘ representing all aspects of amateur and professional golf, the England Golf Partnership was given the green light for the launch of its new ‘Vision‘ and the development of a ‘Whole Sport Plan‘ (WSP). Its aims are to increase and widen participation levels in golf across all ages, gender and cultural backgrounds.
Under the umbrella of the England Golf Partnership, The Professional Golfers‘ Association, English Golf Union and English Ladies Golf Association have plans to increase the number of individuals playing golf by 10% by 2009 and grow the active members of affiliated clubs by 50,000.
The initiative, which is being supported by the Golf Foundation and Sport England, marks a revolutionary step forward by the three governing bodies to work together on the development of the game, in a co-ordinated way with one voice, rather than as individual organisations. Together they will be pooling resources and funding to implement a sustained programme of activities focused on providing more opportunities and reasons for participants to ‘Start‘, ‘Stay‘ and ‘Succeed‘ in the game.
The whole game is being scrutinised to address issues such as its image and the need for golf to be seen as ‘wicked‘, to establishing innovative solutions that increase participation and overcome its perception as expensive and time consuming. The value of club membership is also included in the plan, in view of the growing number of ‘clubless‘ players
Extensive research will be commissioned to provide critical benchmarking data from which to evaluate future activities and targets.
The ‘Whole Sport Plan‘, which is divided into three categories ‘Get into Golf‘, ‘Club England‘ and ‘Team England‘, represents a pathway of programmes to 2009 and is estimated at costing £9.7million in Year 1.
Contributions from within golf, funding the development of the game, are currently £6.8 million and the England Golf Partnership is seeking further investment in addition to the £1.1 million funding that is already contributed by Sport England.
The ‘Whole Sport Plan‘ for 2005 – 2009 will be submitted to Sport England by the end of this month in order to qualify for the first cycle of funding, which has been earmarked for the development of the game from 5 April 2005. Decision on the ‘WSP‘ will be announced by the end of this year.
A move to investigate additional funding opportunities from the ‘clubless‘ golfer will also be sought by the England Golf Partnership, which received the overwhelming support of the stakeholders at the meeting. At present only golfers who are members of clubs currently contribute to the development of the game via their subscriptions to county and national organisations.
Norman Fletcher, partnership manager of the England Golf Partnership, said, “We are delighted by the response to the launch of our Vision as this can only succeed through a joined-up strategic approach and through consultation and dialogue with our stakeholders. 2005 sees the start of a new era for golf in England and the chance to increase and widen participation levels in the game in a more focused and effective way.”
Specialist sports consultants, Performance Matters, have provided technical expertise in the development of the ‘Whole Sport Plan‘. Roger Moreland general manager of Performance Matters said, “We have been really impressed by the attitude within the game of golf, which has come together to provide one vision and one voice.
“Golf in England is really on the up, and with five out of the 12 players from Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team being English, we can‘t think of a better time to be launching these exciting proposals for the game.
“Through this process golf is getting its act together and deserves a rightful place amongst the top four sports of football, rugby, cricket and tennis in England. From the work we have done, the approach and attitudes from all the parties involved, we see no reason why golf shouldn‘t become part of the nation’s Big Five.”
Copies of the Vision for English Golf are now being sent to all golf club officials and PGA professionals throughout England.