SMS INC. in Women and Golf
Posted on July 3, 2017
Did you see Women & Golf‘s recent interview with Brendon Pyle about family golf?
Last year, the Golf Foundation commissioned SMS INC. to carry out a piece of research to establish what the ‘Ultimate Junior Golf Experience’ looks like and the impact this has on the retention of junior members. In this article, Golf Foundation’s Brendon Pyle uses the research to discuss how golf needs to adapt to facilitate junior golf, for example by using shorter formats of the game and playing more family golf.
The article written by Women & Golf can be found here and it is attached below.
Family Golf And Retention Is Golf Foundation’s Focus
In the 12 months leading up to March 2017, the Golf Foundation, the British charity dedicated to making the game accessible for young people, helped provide over 500,000 children with an introduction to golf through a wide range of projects.
Going forward, the Golf Foundation is committed to maintaining that reach, but also wants to ensure that on an annual basis by March 2018, 50,000 young people attend a session at a golf club, 15,000 continue playing regularly and 5,000 become junior members.
At last month’s annual Golf Foundation Presidents’ Awards at Wentworth, Women & Golf caught up with the Golf Foundation’s Chief Executive Brendon Pyle, to find out how the above numbers will be realised, and to hear the latest news on girls’ golf.
The Golf Foundation is focusing on the retention of junior golfers, so what action has been taken?
Between April and October 2016 SMS INC conducted research with an aim to extrapolate information designed to establish what the ‘Ultimate Junior Golf Experience’ looks like and the impact this has on the retention of junior members. Parents, guardians, junior golfers (aged 9-12), club professionals and PGA pros were interviewed in order to establish the factors that are important to junior participation.
What were the findings?
The results highlighted the fact that 99% of parents see golf as providing a very safe environment for their children, and that 95% also believe the sport can teach their children valuable life skills. Perhaps most revealing, however, was the confirmation that the vast majority of junior golfers (71%) would like to play more golf with their parents. Juniors want to be part of a club, they don’t want to be segregated – a sense of belonging is important to them. This proves that if clubs can provide an environment in which all ages feel welcome and comfortable, the sport will grow!
Based on these findings, how can the industry, specifically golf clubs, help to encourage junior members?
Due to the existing culture of many golf clubs and the perception of the game, it’s not surprising that we don’t get more women and children, particularly girls, playing golf – clubs need to become more inviting. We know that it’s the woman, the wife, or the mum, that makes decisions about family time so we need to embrace that unit and introduce formats to encourage families to play together.
What formats do you suggest to encourage family golf?
Research shows that juniors want shorter formats, they like to play in teams and also at other golf clubs, so we’ve got the ideal format in the European Tour’s new GolfSixes format. The Tour has given us the license to roll out the GolfSixes Academy and over the next few months this will be tested at 32 golf clubs throughout England. A team consisting of 6 pairs will compete against another club over 6 or 9 holes and there is a stipulation to include a minimum of two girls in each team.
How is the Golf Foundation supporting England Golf’s ‘Family Golf Month’ in July?
The Golf Foundation is distributing HSBC Golf Roots Family Kit Bags to over 300 UK golf clubs to enable them to offer free taster sessions to families. The bags include child-friendly fun-orientated equipment, adaptable tee markers and ideas on playing formats for all generations of families to play together.
Why has the Girls Golf Rocks initiative run jointly by England Golf and the Golf Foundation to get more girls playing golf succeeded while others have failed?
It’s the female county player ambassadors that are key to this initiative. The Golf Foundation trains them so they can work as leaders alongside the pros and they are fantastic role models for young girls. In 2016 Girls Golf Rocks featured in nine counties, but this year the programme has been expanded to 15 counties. The retention figure is impressive and through this programme in England, junior girl membership has increased by 4% and through a similar programme in Wales, by 7%.
GolfSixes Academy and Girls Golf Rocks are just two projects amongst a breadth of others that demonstrate the Golf Foundation’s commitment and progress in bringing more young people into the game, regardless of background or ability. For further information, visit: www.golf-foundation.org
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