Here at Hoops, we’re not just interested in the here and now of sport, we want to know what the future holds as well. So we’re going to be talking to people involved in the industry to find out how they think their sport is going to evolve.
This week we meet Glynn Traynor, director of golf at Styal – a course trying to bring golf to the masses.
Is the sport expensive to play? Is it just for men? Is it a stuffy game that takes all day with no fitness benefits?
When the website of a national campaign to boost participation in a sport is answering questions like these, you get the sense that they feel they have their work cut out.
But that’s exactly what Sport England’s Get into Golf project has done, in a page titled “Seven Golfing Myths”, in which they argue against the traditional depiction of the sport.
And to a certain extent it is true that they face a difficult task, with some clubs still reluctant to move away from the antiquated levels of formality that necessitate dress codes, standards of behaviour and even ban women from club houses and courses.
However, they are increasingly in the extreme minority, with some courses going the other way and openly embracing diversity.
Styal Golf Club in Cheshire is one such course – open to anyone and everyone, with a range of challenges to attract players of all abilities and backgrounds.
“England Golf are doing a good job at breaking down barriers, but people think it’s an elitist sport,” Styal director of golf Glynn Traynor told Hoops.
“We started in 1994 and we opened it to be inclusive. At that point in time we felt it needed to be freshened up, we decided that we’d just charge the same fee to ladies and gentlemen and they could play when they wanted.
“People think that it’s an expensive sport and it’s not, you can get a full set of golf clubs very cheap these days.
“The idea is that we’re a feeder, there’s a clear pathway for people who start and can’t hit a ball, progressing to the short course and then being able to play a full round.”
Affordable golf! Unlimited rounds of golf on both our golf courses for less than £13 per week. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/UMVBL0jwfn
— Styal Golf Club (@styalgolf) October 19, 2016
So, that’s two myths answered – the sport is far from being only for men, and cheap options are available.
But with people increasingly looking for fitness benefits in their pass-times, what does golf bring to the table?
“It’s been proven that golf is very healthy – a round of golf is equivalent to a good four or five hour session in the gym,” said Traynor.
“The health benefits are incredible because it’s nice, easy, enjoyable exercise.
“It’s been proven that if you play golf regularly it can increase your life expectancy by five years.
“It’s an enjoyable way to gain that important exercise.”
And in that final sentence lies our final myth – is the sport “enjoyable”, or a stuffy sport played in cardigans?
As anyone who has ever played the sport will attest, the last word you can use to describe it is boring. Rather, the challenge is controlling one’s temper in a game that is deceptively difficult to master.
“We get a lot of positive feedback, but people’s patience to play a difficult sport and to get better declines,” said Traynor.
“You can be good one day, shocking the next – it’s a rocky road. But I would say that it boils down to the enjoyment factor.
“We’re trying to promote the coaching of golf to make people better at it, so they enjoy it and they play more.
“I’d encourage people to just try it, just pick up that golf club and see if you like the sport.”
Hoops is now available in app stores, so you can use us to find opportunities for any sport or fitness activity you can think of. Simply click here to download the app for Android, and here for iOS – or search for Hoops Connect.
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