The R&A has launched an ambitious pilot initiative to encourage people to learn to play golf at a diverse range of golf facilities across Scotland.
The launch of Golf.Golf was supported by R&A ambassador and singer songwriter Niall Horan at an event held at The R&A World Golf Museum in St Andrews.
The initiative has been developed using extensive research into how to attract new people to the sport and is targeted specifically at those who already had or have an active interest in sporting activity but not necessarily in golf.
Its aim is to change the perception of the game and drive new players to a host of venues where the sport is played, from driving ranges to simulators to municipal courses, as well as existing facilities so they can learn how to play golf.
The Golf.Golf digital platform provides an easy-to-use searchable list of all participating venues. Prospective players – from beginners to those who want to pick up the sport again – can use the platform to find their local venue and book sessions directly. Prices are set at an affordable rate so that cost barriers are reduced and venues can get involved at no cost and benefit from attracting an untapped source of first-time golfers.
Backed by a global social media strategy which includes a fun film starring Niall Horan and a host of Scottish sporting stars – including former football coach and player Gordon Strachan OBE, Olympic gold medallist and curler Vicky Wright, Scotland rugby captain Jamie Ritchie and fellow internationalists and brothers Matt and Zander Fagerson of Glasgow Warriors – Golf.Golf portrays the game as fun, inexpensive, easy to understand, a place to make new friends and a great way to stay mentally and physically fit.
Golf.Golf is also being supported by The R&A’s development ambassadors, who include tennis commentator and former player Daniela Hantuchova, footballer Gareth Bale, cricketer Kevin Pietersen and golfer Michelle Wie West.
The R&A’s ambition is to successfully pilot the programme in Scotland during 2023 through working with Scottish Golf and for its affiliated national federations to then roll it out across global venues and so increase worldwide participation in the game.
Sessions are aimed at a wide range of potential players, from children to women-only groups and one-to-one coaching delivered by professionals and volunteers that will support them in learning to play golf in a fun and welcoming environment. Administration of the platform is done centrally leaving venues to focus on delivering fun and inexpensive golf experiences in welcoming environments.
Niall Horan said, “Next to making music, golf is a huge passion of mine, which is why I want to inspire people from all walks of life to give it a try. By supporting Golf.Golf and The R&A’s work to inspire more people to get involved in the game, I want to show people that learning to play golf is great fun, good for your health and can be enjoyed by anyone whether alone or with friends and family. This way we can begin to change the perception of golf and attract new players into the game, especially young people – which is why I am so proud to be working alongside my management company Modest! Golf on this.”
Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said, “We have seen golf’s popularity boom in recent years with more people playing golf more regularly. We must capitalise on this growth by promoting the many positive social and health benefits of golf and offer opportunities to learn to play that are fun, accessible and inclusive.
“This is why we have created a promotional campaign featuring global stars, national sporting heroes and everyday people to build awareness of how fun and easy it is to learn to play golf and which offers a simple to use digital platform so they can freely book lessons at facilities near to them.
“We look forward to seeing the results of the pilot being run in Scotland and learning from the experiences of those people who take part in the activities.”
Fraser Thornton, Interim Chief Executive of Scottish Golf, said, “This campaign is perfectly placed to encourage people who are already warmed up to the idea of sport, into our great game of golf. The Golf.Golf digital platform is beautifully simple to use and directs people to whatever form of learning golf is right for them, whether that’s at a driving range or a club. It opens new participants up to the idea that golf isn’t, and doesn’t have to be just one thing. It’s a very exciting initiative.”
Sandy Smith, Head PGA Golf Professional at Ladybank Golf Club said, “What has been proposed with the Golf.Golf program is what I believe a total game changer for the game of golf. I’ve been involved in this industry for 30 years and this is by far the best initiative that I have seen.”