Golf Is More Than Just A Game - Why It Should Remain Open
Golf may be viewed by some as simply hitting a little white ball around the countryside, but for many it is clearly more than a game, it's an enriching activity, an integral part of daily life.
During the spring lockdown that was introduced throughout the UK in March to combat the pandemic, the importance of golf became apparent, a spotlight was shone on the many benefits it can bring, reflecting on what we were missing.
Many will remember what they did throughout that period, searching for ingenious ways to get a taste of the sport, whether it be through building practice nets, or making the most of training aids to keep their games ticking over.
Ultimately, there is nothing like being on the golf course, walking the fairways, challenging yourself, hearing that sound of club face hitting ball, so there were cries of joy heard around the country when restrictions eased and golf became one of the first activities to be permitted again, returning in England on the 13th of May 2020.
That enthusiasm resulted in unprecedented demand for tee times and busy courses throughout the summer.
But now, as we enter autumn, certain restrictions are being administered in the face of rising coronavirus cases. Fortunately, being an outdoor sport and ideal for physical distancing, there are no indications that golf alongside many other popular sports could again be halted, although whatever decisions authorities deem appropriate must be followed in light of an ongoing public health crisis.
However, in the challenging context of these times, for millions, the importance of golf has been clear.
This was a topic previously covered in Why We Play Golf, but in our most recent survey that was completed post-lockdown in August 2020, we asked golfers; How Important To You Is Golf For?
Those results may not come as a surprise to existing keen golfers, but they underline why it was vital for many that the game resumed successfully when restrictions were loosened, and why it's key for golf to continue in some form during the months ahead.
As mentioned, golf is aligned to fit with guidelines that are in place to limit the transmission of infection; being outdoors, limiting how many people mix and keeping socially distanced. We saw many procedures introduced by the governing bodies and individual venues to ensure the safety of golfers and those working at clubs, which has largely been deemed successful, something emphasised by the survey that found 97% of respondents feeling comfortable and safe with the social distancing and hygiene measures in place.
But what the survey also illuminated were four main benefits that golf provides.
Answering the question, 75% of golfers who responded to the survey stated that golf was very or extremely important for physical activity, understandably so, when you consider that on average it involves walking four or five miles, often carrying clubs, making it a fantastic activity for your health, reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and various cardiovascular issues such as TIAs and strokes.
Breaking it down further by age, for those over 65, 82% stated physical activity was very or extremely important to them in relation to golf. 77% stated this for the 55-64 age group, 70% for the 45-54 group, 60% for the 35-44 age group, and 63% of those under 35. For all golfers, but especially for those older, playing the game is essential to keeping active, as Will Trinkwon explained in 10 Reasons Why Golf is Good for You.
A difficulty for many during the pandemic has been the limiting on social interaction, not spending time with family and friends, but golf is an antidote to that lack of seeing and interacting with others. Looking at the survey, 67% of golfers stated the importance of the game as being very or extremely important when it comes to social interaction.
Again, the age groups split is very similar to keeping active, with the importance progressively increasing through each demographic. 65+ were 68.4%, 55-64 at 67.1%, 45-54 on 66.1%, 35-44 sitting at 65.2%, while under 35s were at 60%. Physical and mental stimulation is a significant upside to golf. Something described by Golfshake's Derek Clement in his feature Benefits of Golf for the Over 50s.
77% of golfers stated the importance as being very or extremely important when it comes to mental wellbeing in relation to golf, which is a subject that has been widely discussed across society, particularly with regards to men. There are several initiatives focused specifically on golf as explored in How Golf Can Help Your Mental Wellbeing.
Delving into the age demographics, 68.8% of golfers aged 65+ stated the importance of mental wellbeing being very or extremely important. Intriguingly, this increased as the ages lowered with 70% of golfers aged 55-64, 71% of golfers aged 45-54, 75% of golfers aged 35-44, and although they made up a small sample within the survey 75% of under 35s stated golf was very or extremely important for their mental wellbeing.
All of the above highlights the importance of golf and with the game being an outdoor activity it's no shock to see 85% of golfers stating that the game was very or extremely important in relation to being outside. This further highlights the benefits of golf in terms of being physically activity, breathing fresh air, walking in the outdoors and being in the company of fellow golfers.
During the lockdown period when golf was still restricted but people were permitted to daily outdoor activity, there were some fantastic stories about courses connecting with the local community, promoting the benefits of golf and what golf means.
Further analysis of the age demographic again highlighted a slight shift dependent on age category, breaking down into 89.4% of the 65+ group, 86% of the 55-64 group, 83% of the 45-54 group, 82% of the 35-44 group and 78% of the group under 35 all stating that golf was important to them for enjoying the outdoors.
Ultimately, whatever happens in the coming months, we will all have to adjust accordingly, but it's clear when looking at this survey data, that it's vitally important for many people that they continue to have that freedom to play golf and absorb the benefits that our ancient and beloved game can offer at a time when they are needed more than ever.
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