Lucy Mellor Bates recently asked me about my thoughts on the future of golf. The first thing that comes to mind is the stigma of the golfer. I’m not for a second suggesting golfers are a maligned group, but I think many don’t take up the sport as they identify it as for old, white, middle class men. Age, gender, ethnicity or sexuality.
Golf is one of the very few sports that isn’t significantly affect by your age, gender, ethnicity or sexuality. But social class (stop me now, I’m an ex Sociology teacher!!) has an impact on the stigma of the golfer and the affordability of taking up the sport.
Both Nick Dougherty and Tyrell Hatton both recently spoke how great the Golf Sixes event was and how the sport needs to move forward. We need to get away from some of the traditional aspects of the sport as society had moved on. Who has 5 hours to spare for a round these days? Those of us who are golfers can talk for hours about our love and obsession with the sport. But what is it about golf that puts others off?
In the North West of England alone there are some fantastic initiative to get people into golf and bring golfers together. At one end, the relentless work that Gareth Shaw, Alison Lysons, Sean Hammill, Iain Lancaster, Abbie Lynch do for England Golf is paving ways for a variety of groups.
There’s a huge growth in use of simulators in different contexts with Rob Hart at TGC Academy, Freddy Valenti and his Golf Bays company to The Green in Manchester (Ellie Preston). The weather doesn’t have to stop you practicing or even playing a virtual round. You event play at night thanks to Kelly Tidy and SK Events.
Social media is catching up to the rest of global sports with thanks to Emma Ballard at Medi 8 and a host of vlogs by the likes of Mark Crossfield (my doppelganeger), Rick Shiels and Peter Finch to name a few.
In the corporate world, the stigma reigns supreme! But there are fantastic networking events for golfers getting to play the best curses in the country with Simon Gee at Golf & Business Together and Sean Fergusson, David Harries at Fore Biz.