National Golf Month tees off today with hundreds of free coaching opportunities across the UK aiming to encourage more than 100,000 people to give golf a go for the first time.
This year there is a special focus on encouraging more women to try golf – and 2015 European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch teamed up with Kate Hoey MP, the Mayor’s Commissioner for Sport in London and the former Minister for Sport, to launch the participation drive.
The month-long campaign got underway at Wimbledon Common Golf Club, one of hundreds of venues offering National Golf Month linked events and activities during May.
The club, which until 2005 was an all-male club, now has a thriving women’s section (61 members) and a successful ladies academy, which introduces and mentors new female golfers. (Nine out of the 10 new starters in 2014 have joined the club as full members and are now regular golfers.)
Market research commissioned by Syngenta a golf course turfcare specialist supporting National Golf Month, in 2014 revealed that 5% of women in the UK already participating in at least one other sport or activity said they would be ‘very interested’ in taking up golf, equating to a potential 640,000 new female golfers. Spending time with family and friends, socialising outdoors and stress relief are the key factors that appeal to women about golf.
The research also showed that prospective new players are looking for accessible and affordable coaching opportunities, which National Golf Month is aiming to deliver throughout May.
“Golf is a sport that can be enjoyed by men and women, boys and girls, and is a wonderful game for life,” said Carin Koch, an ambassador for Syngenta.
“I started golf when I was young and now, as a mum to two children, we enjoy playing golf as a family. Golf is a healthy, social, outdoor sport and I’d encourage women to get together with friends and family and take part in one of the many National Golf Month free taster sessions and experience for themselves what a fun game golf is.”
Kate Hoey MP said: “It’s great that National Golf Month is being launched in London and that it has a Women and Girls focus. London Sport is actively supporting the This Girl Can campaign, and National Golf Month is a great example of sport meeting the demand created by This Girl Can and supplying women with more grass roots opportunities to get involved in a wide range of activities. I’m sure that this programme will contribute to London becoming the most physically active sporting city in the world.”
BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty, talkSPORT presenter Georgie Bingham and 19-year-old Solheim Cup star and Ladies European Tour professional Charley Hull, are among the female personalities also lending their support to National Golf Month.
Doug Poole, founder of National Golf Month, said: “What has happened at Wimbledon Common Golf Club is a great example of how golf is evolving in the UK. The ladies academy is introducing women of all ages and from different walks of life to golf and it’s great to see how, through the coaching and mentoring programme, new players are developing from starters to regular golfers.
“Of course, you don’t have to be a member of a golf club to play golf and there are many starter schemes at different venues throughout the UK, especially during National Golf Month in May when you can sign up for a free taster session or affordable coaching with a golf professional.”
Doug Poole added, “As well as female coaching sessions, we are also encouraging families and lapsed players to take part in this year’s activities and hope that thousands of people will find or rediscover what an enjoyable, social and healthy game golf is.”
To celebrate the start of National Golf Month, Carin Koch played a 9-hole exhibition match at Wimbledon Common GC alongside Ladies Vice Captain Joanna Croker and 18-year-old Lauren Horsford, who earlier this month became Surrey Ladies Champion and was a finalist in the 2014 Telegraph Junior Golf Championship.
To take part in a National Golf Month free taster session near you, visit:
Photograph: Carin Koch, Kate Hoey MP and the ladies of Wimbledon Common Golf Club launch National Golf Month