What we avid golf players have know for decades has finally filtered down to the House of Commons. Golf is much more than just a sport – it has massive health benefits, appeals to all ages, offers a fun and diverse social life to its members and even contributes to the economic stability of our country!
In March, an independent report commissioned by The R&A was published by Sheffield Hallam University – the first of its kind for an individual sport in the UK. ‘A Satellite Account for Golf in the UK’ found that the gross value added to the UK economy by golf is £2 billion. And having accounted for indirect and induced economic impacts, the turnover of the UK’s golf industry in 2014 was £10.3 billion.
Yes, you read that correctly – £10.3 billion!
Subsequent to the report, on April 13th 2013, the House of Commons held a debate on the value of golf to the UK’s economy. During the debate, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Golf Group, Karl McCartney commented that “I am aware that the Government in its Sporting Future strategy has set five priorities, one of which is economic development. It is clear that golf makes a vast contribution to our economy, much of which is unheralded and unsung thus far. I trust this debate will go some way in promulgating the good news.
“The economic value is clear: with nearly 4 million people playing golf once a year and 1.5 million people playing golf every four weeks — a number even larger than those employed in the national health service —the total economic activity of golf exceeds a staggering £10 billion per annum.
“Of course, it is not just about jobs and money, vital as these are. With golf being the fifth largest sport in the UK in terms of participation, the health benefits are clear for the many who take part. This great sport is for all ages and we want to encourage young girls and boys to try the game, whatever their background and where they live, and to continue to play throughout their lives with their friends and families. Who knows, it may not be a further twenty years before we see another British winner of the US Masters.”
Sports Minister, Rt Hon David Evennett added, “…the inclusion of men’s and women’s golf at this summer’s Olympic games in Rio will give golf a unique opportunity to access a global audience, encourage fresh blood into the game and increase economic growth for the sport sector. I was interested to learn that this will be the first time that golf has returned to the Olympics for 112 years, having last been played at the games in 1904, with men’s and women’s tournaments taking place. Golfing authorities believe that the sport’s visibility will be greatly elevated by its inclusion in the Olympics, leading to greater participation.
“Sport matters. It matters to this Government, to this House and to this country. Golf can play an important part in the Government’s new sports strategy, which aims to encourage a more active and participatory nation.”
So we have it – the Government believes that golf has huge and far-reaching health, social and economic benefits. And as we all know, MPs don’t lie!
Can’t decide whether to become a member?
With approximately 3,000 golf clubs arounf the UK, it may surprise you to learn that club membership is declining. But there is no need to start worrying about the downfall of our great sport – much of this is down to a shift-change in the way people play, with a rise in greenfee players (golfers who are not a member of any particular club).