Woburn believes family focus is key to boosting participation and has launched a series of new initiatives to maintain high participation and further improve access to the game.
The initiatives come as figures published this year showed that the number of UK rounds played in 2013 was the lowest in a decade*.
Woburn’s activities are aimed at increasing wider family involvement in the sport to foster a sense of community and belonging, and helping to boost beginners’ performance through a greater enjoyment of the sport.
The club ran an inaugural 9-hole foursomes tournament which partnered 38 beginners with established players – including father-and-son and husband-and-wife partnerships.
With the emphasis on the game being fun, Woburn went to the extent of replacing the standard 4 1/2 inch hole cups with 15 inch beginner friendly hole cups on its shortened course for the event - the first major club in the UK to do so - while insisting that both beginners and regulars played with junior clubs. As a celebration of the day’s achievements, the event was followed by a barbecue and prize giving for players and their families, with entertainment provided by world trick shot champion Geoff Swain.
Dan Blesovsky, Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) professional at Woburn, said the success of the event meant it would become a regular fixture at the club: “The day was a fantastic way of making the sport fun for beginners and their families, and we’ll definitely be running several next year. The bigger holes increase game speed and give players a real sense of achievement when they hole a putt, which is a great motivator for continuing with the sport.”
To further boost participation, the Woburn professional team has introduced weekly coaching sessions for ladies aimed at encouraging women to play the game and integrating them into the Club socially - and has also partnered with a number of schools in its local area, giving more than 250 children the opportunity to experience the game.
Blesovsky added: “It’s so crucial that whatever the age of new players, their first experience of golf is a positive and enjoyable one. Too often players are bombarded with information which is a big turn off for many, and affects performance negatively.
“The recent participation figures show golf cannot afford to rest on its laurels and must provide formats that put the sport at the heart of family moments rather than being something separate. Our initiatives are aimed at improving access to the game and helping players to develop their games while keeping things fun.”
To support its coaching programme and provide world-class practice facilities for experienced golfers, Woburn Golf Club has constructed a dedicated short game area, focusing on shots from 100 yards and in and beginner golf. This new facility will open in June 2015.
*2013 Golf Participation report by Sports Marketing Surveys Inc.