We’re halfway through the first ever #GolfHealthWeek, a week dedicated to raising awareness of the health benefits of playing golf. But what does it really mean for the game?
By Charlotte Ibbetson
Just as the golfing world tries to recover from Masters fever, governing bodies, golf clubs and respective tours have rallied together to share the same message: Golf is good for you, regardless of your age, ability, whether you’re a seasoned golfer or have never picked up a club before.
The dedicated campaign, coordinated by the R&A, began on Monday 15 April, with each day of the week focusing on a different aspect of health and wellbeing. Monday focused on fitness, Tuesday was all about mental health and the rest of the week will explore disabilities, nutrition and health projects.
It’s not as though we didn’t already know a lot of this stuff though, right? As golfers, of course we do. We’ll walk between four and five miles every time we play 18 holes. We’re in the fresh air, socialising and getting regular exercise, of course that’s good for you.
But for non-golfers, the health benefits are often completely overlooked. As a PGA Professional and regular gym goer, I can’t even tell you how many people have questioned ‘why do you work out, you don’t need to be fit to play golf, do you?’. As I sigh in reply, I can almost see the outdated image in their mind: A doddery old man plodding up the fairway.
One of the biggest hurdles of getting more people into golf is changing perceptions of the game, so why haven’t we been shouting about this sooner? In a day when health and wellbeing, both physical and mental, are super-hot topics, Golf and Health Week could not have come soon enough, but it shouldn’t stop after just one week. It’s a message we need to keep shouting – and shout it from the rooftops.
How to get involved
A quick Google search of #GolfHealthWeek will show you everything you need to know about the campaign, including plenty of helpful videos, podcasts and advice about golf and wellbeing. If you're a gym bunny like me but not sure what to do in the gym, the PGAs of Europe put an article together about what golfers should do in the gym. There are some really handy tips and videos in the article so I'd recommend checking it out.
Up and down the country, there are free golf sessions and plenty of initiatives aimed at helping new starters get into the game. It’s not all about physical health though, with plenty of advice being shared about golf and mental health; Less screen time, more green time being a consistent and important theme.
The campaign has reached much further afield too, with Yas Links Golf Club in Abu Dhabi hosting free sessions with PGA qualified strength and conditioning coaches.
The ‘Tiger Effect’ lives on
There could not possibly have been a better prelude to Golf and Health Week than Tiger’s win at the Masters. After struggling for the last decade with back injuries and scandal after scandal in his personal life, the Tiger we once knew and loved is back. And he’s back with a bang; According to the Daily Mail, in those seconds that it took Tiger to sink the winning putt, Nike made $22,540,000.
Woods transformed the golf industry when he burst onto the scene at the end of the 1990s. The American totally changing people’s perception of golf, something that initiatives like Golf and Health Week are still trying to achieve now. He was a ‘real’ athlete, training as hard as he played. He caught the world’s attention, and everyone knew his name – golfers, non-golfer, lovers and haters of the game. People took up golf because of him and his return this time around could have an even bigger impact than the first.
I’m confident that Golf and Health Week will be nothing but positive for the game, I just hope we can keep the momentum going.
Golf has always been good for you, but I’m pleased we’re finally shouting about it.
Less screen time, more green time everyone!
Image credit: Phil Inglis/Getty Images