Golfers say they will play more of the sport after realizing reading about its health benefits.
Over the next few years, the R&A’s campaign to promote the holistic health benefits of golf could play a major role in growing the game around the world. Of course, there are many well-known benefits to playing the sport, both mental and physical. Golf takes substantial concentration and the ability to play through many rounds.
However, those who are unaware of its ability to boost well-being may benefit from a better understanding about the ways in which golf can aid in optimal health. For example, according to the R&A’s 2016-2020 Golf and Health report, which cited a scientific study conducted in Sweden, golfers live an average of five years longer than non-golfers.
“We did research with existing and lapsed golfers, plus people who play ‘off course’ (perhaps use driving ranges only) and people who don’t play golf,” explained Phil Anderton of the R&A. “We showed them the information that it’s been proven categorically by doctors and other medical scientists that golf is good for your health. We asked, ‘Does this change your perceptions of golf and your intent to play golf more frequently, to take it up again, or take it up at all?’ The results were outstanding. To give you an illustration, in Britain, for those people who currently play golf, the intent to play more was 51 percent after learning more on the sport’s holistic health benefits.”
Globally, 50 percent of those who say they enjoy playing golf on a course do so only once every three months, according to previous studies. Providing information about the health benefits to this population could mean increasing their time on the green to more than than once a quarter.
“This is an opportunity to reach these people with information that could change this statistic,” Anderton said.
There is no doubt that this would be a huge boost for the sport overall. As golf outings increase, there will be more green fees paid, balls and gloves sold, and club memberships purchased. People drawn to the game are likely to start playing more often. Thus, across the board, there would be a benefit to country clubs and other golf hotspots.
In the survey, of golfers who fell out of the sport, “39 percent said they wanted to return after hearing about the health benefits.” Also, “15 percent were interested in trying the sport, and 81 percent of people who play off the course are interested in switching” to on-course games.
Meanwhile, Anderton, who is the chief executive of both Scottish Rugby Union and Midlothian Hearts Football Club and a former worker at Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola spokesperson, said that he was somewhat surprised and is optimistic about the data.
“No, we’re not going to make 50 percent of people suddenly play more golf,” Anderton said, “But I’ve been through many of these types of studies, and I’d be happy to get numbers suggestive of 10 percent. When you get numbers close to 50 percent, you know you’re a winner.”