FORE HEALTH PLAY GOLF
Pushing the health benefits of the sport is key to attracting new golfers.
Health is Key
The health of an individual is a prized possession. Whilst keen Golfers know the benefits the sport brings to health and fitness, finding ways to express this to potential new recruits is paramount to the growth of the industry.
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Why in an age when regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle are more important to the individual than ever before are the numbers taking part in golf shrinking?

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How do Golf Clubs show that they are good for the health of their players? Below we give examples of both research into the health benefits of Golf as well as the right tools and models to communicate these benefits to your customers.

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What examples can I learn from and what can I do to further the health benefits offered by my facility?

Why?

Why are the benefits of golf as part of a healthy lifestyle so important to communicate to my community?

We live in a society where individuals are suffering increasingly from time poverty. This is happening in unison with a huge expansion in possibilities for leisure, fitness and entertainment. Whilst golf has always offered a wealth of health benefits, the emphasis of the game’s marketing has never found focus upon these.

Instead the industry has found ways to distance the game from physical exertion through the introduction of electric trollies and carts, focussing more on the leisure aspects of the sport.

Retention = Challenge

Fitness
Whilst regular golfers are no doubt aware of the health benefits that come with consistent rounds, those who have never played but are looking for a new, social exercise regime are likely to look elsewhere, unaware of the considerable benefits on offer.

There are a wealth of benefits offered to health and fitness by golf, with a vast number of academic studies highlighting where the biggest benefits lay. Finding a way to both understand and communicate these benefits to existing and potential customers is essential to growing out the wonderful game in a time poor world.

To understand how pushing the health benefits of golf can help your club, an understanding of why physical activity and fitness is so important is needed. Regular exercise helps:

  • Decrease your risk of disease
  • Improves your physical and mental well being
  • Helps you look better and younger
  • Helps you to avoid injury
  • Helps keep you active for a longer, happier life

The exercise provided by golf is so important to lifespan that a study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine has indicated that it can add up to five years to the average life span. On top of this it has been found to result in “a sense of purpose and value, a better quality of life, improved sleep, and reduced stress, as well as stronger relationships and social connectedness.”

American Journal of Preventative Medicine

Exercise and social inclusion

The social aspects of any sport are integral in attracting and retaining new participants. Golf clubs must enhance their role as centres of communities’, not only for the established male audience but for Women and Youth Golfers as well. You must offer social and cultural integration for all ages and backgrounds within your immediate neighbourhood if you are to prosper in a world of limited time and multiple choice.

Only through emphasising the social nature of sporting activities can we provide encouragement and support to ensure the level of frequency and adherence required to obtain sport-related health benefits. Golf is perfectly placed to take advantage of this melding of healthy living and social interaction, it is developing a strong strategy as to how it goes about this that our industry needs to progress.

''I'm a HUGE believer in golf as a "good health investment"---good health because of the social "good health" it provides during the "talk time" before starting the round, the "talk time" during the round, the "talk time" in the bar when the round's wrapped up and over and the "talk time" on the drive home; good health because of the physical "walk lots and talk often" opportunity it delivers: and good health because of the "one good shot in 18 holes and you feel super" psychological good health that it provides.''

Gregg Patterson General Manager, The Beach Club

The Research

Below we have listed several researches that underpin the importance of health in engaging golfers to the game: focusing on the major health benefits & most importantly identify the WHY factor.

Golf: a game of life and death – reduced mortality in Swedish golf players

A 2008 study by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that the death rate for golfers is 40 percent lower than for other people of the same sex, age and socioeconomic status. This finding correspond to a 5 year increase in life expectancy for active golfers, with those obtaining a low handicap seeing an even larger increase.

It is a well-known fact that exercise is good for the health, but the expected health gains of particular activities are still largely unknown. A team of researchers from Karolinska Institutet has now presented a study of the health effects of golf “a low-intensity form of exercise in which over 600,000 Swedes engage”.

The study was based on data from 300,000 Swedish golfers and shows that golf has beneficial health effects far surpassing expectations. The death rate amongst golfers is 40 percent lower than the rest of the population, which equates to an increased life expectancy of five years.

Professor Anders Ahlbom, who has led the study with Bahman Farahmand is not surprised at the result, as he believes that there are several aspects of the game that are proved to be good for the health.

Expectancy

''A round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometres, something which is known to be good for the health. People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help.''

Professor Anders Ahlbom Senior Professor, Institute of Environmental Medicine
To conclude, golfers have a lower death rate regardless of sex, age and social group. The effect is greater for golfers from blue-collar professions than for those from white-collar professions.

Whist many of your members will no doubt be aware that golf keeps them somewhat healthier than their non-playing friends, it is highly unlikely that they are aware of just how stark the difference is. An increase in life expectancy of 5 years for players is extraordinary and if your members were aware of this fact, they would no doubt be encouraging their non-playing friends to join up immediately.

Further Research

Below we have listed several researches that underpin the importance of health in engaging golfers to the game: focussing on the major health benifits & most importantly identify the WHY factor.


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    How?

    So how do we communicate to the public the health benefits of playing golf? 

    The Magic Elixir

    What can your club do to attract more fitness enthusiasts through your doors? Below, Gregg Patterson, former General Manager at The Beach Club California explains what health aspects you should focus on to attract more health conscious players to your doors.

    People here in Southern California are devotees of “good health”.  They wax poetic about hot yoga, Zen retreats and vile tasting, gluten free, macro biotic, “certified organic”, kale based, “ugly as sin but guaranteed to purge your toxins” uber-fashionable blended libations.

    Yet these Good Health Enthusiasts NEVER mention the good health virtues of GOLF and the “Magic Elixir” delivered with every swing on every hole at every club on every day.   Fact is, these characters snicker, smile and chuckle at the very mention of golf as The Deliverer of long term, big picture, broad spectrum GOOD HEALTH and happiness.

    And it makes me droopy and poopy knowing that we who BELIEVE aren’t standing on our soap boxes and preaching to the cynical and the dismissive about “The Healthy Why” of Golf, don’t upend their bowl of macro biotic gooey goop and smack ‘em in the noggin with The Truth about The Big Picture Health benefits of the golfing experience!!!

    It goes without saying that I’m a BELIEVER in golf as a deliverer of physical, mental and emotional “good health”.  I’m convinced—golf delivers “more vitamins per dollar” than the competition.   I’m convinced—golf is the Magic Elixir we need to defeat The Maladies of Modernity.

    We who believe need talking points to smack down the unbelievers, to bring The Good Health Message to the masses.

    Fellow Preachers, prime yourselves with——The Message!

    Golf Delivers:

    “Back to Nature” Good Health

    There’s no air conditioned, de-humidified, designer certified gym anywhere that can re-create a “re-creational” experience one seventieth as glorious as that delivered by the great outdoors.    Golf serves up “Back to Nature” good health, the sort of joyous, uplifting, transcendent experience that comes from breathing fresh air, smelling cut grass, soaking up the rain or wrastlin’ with gators.

    “My Body Just Got a Workout” Good Health

    It’s a fact—walking eighteen holes is as good for Physical Good Health as running a five “K” race, rowing two miles or climbing El Capitan (almost!).   Count the calories burned during a golf workout— yoga stretch at the starter’s desk, four hour bag carry, multi-mile walk, bunker crawls, stream crossings, yoga stretch when it’s over, “elbow workout” in the bar, hundred yard dash to the car (hmmm). Talk about a work out!  Talk about good health!

    "What a Howl" Good Health

    People who laugh are healthier than people who don’t.  Most players play golf laughably, and if they see their shortcomings as a hoot, with laughter as a “bonding opportunity” (as psychologists tell us it is!!!), they’ll be ingesting a huge dollop of “What a Howl” good health whenever they play.

    People who laugh are healthier than people who don’t.  Most players play golf laughably, and if they see their shortcomings as a hoot, with laughter as a “bonding opportunity” (as psychologists tell us it is!!!), they’ll be ingesting a huge dollop of “What a Howl” good health whenever they play.

    “I Escaped the Madness” Good Health

    The world is filled with chaos.  Traffic jams.  E-mail.  Voice-mail.  Snail mail.  Bitches.  Moans.  Break-downs.  Golf is an escape—exiting the traffic, into the clubhouse, meet with friends, onto the fairway—“the world” evaporates.  You’ve escaped and have discovered—golf is the antidote for the madness of modernity.

    “I Love Spending Time with My Family” Good Health

    A healthy family plays together and stays together.  Golf delivers Family Good Health when the kids walk the course with Mamma and Pappa, carry their clubs and eat their burgers and dogs—together!—in the clubhouse.  Golf becomes the “common experience” shared by the entire family—and “shared experience” is the foundation of Family Good Health.

    “Talk Time” Good Health

    Healthy people need relationships and community.  Relationships and community are built on “talk time” with those relationships and that community.  Golf delivers “talk time” opportunities and the social good health that talk time delivers—“talk time” in the locker room,  “talk time” on the first tee, “talk time” while playing, “talk time” in the “debrief lounge”, “talk time” on the ride home, and “talk time” post-play over the phone, on the net, around the dinner table and near the water cooler at work.  People who have good people to meet with and talk to, who have a “community of talkers” to engage with, are lots healthier than the “verbally challenged” but “digitally connected” of the world.

    “Bump Into Others You Know” Good Health

    Loneliness is corrosive, a demon that infects and corrupts and turns good health into bad.  People need people, people who they know and people who know them.  Golf delivers “Bump into Others You Know” Good Health opportunities.   Golf delivers serendipitous “meetings” with dozens of people—-with the gardener who talks to you about weeds; with Front Desk Sue who gives you the “hello” and “what have you been up to”; with the retirees who sit around and moan about “the way it was”; with the pro in the pro shop; with members on the first tee; with the greens keeper who waves, the marshal who shouts and the waitress who serves you the burger.  Lots of unplanned “bump into others” opportunities that deliver gobs of “Bump Into Others You Know” good health buzz.

    “Connect and Reflect” Good Health

    People who reflect on what they’re doing, did do or want to do are healthier than those who let the demons grow and fester, infecting their psyches, corrupting their good health.  A round of golf delivers four hours of “reflective opportunity” with friends and family, with mentors and followers, with the educated and the successful.  Connecting and reflecting with interesting people helps purge the detritus that litters our lives and infects our spirits.

    “I’m In Control---and Done Good” Good Health

    People who have “psychic good health” get things done—they start and finish projects, have control throughout, appreciate the complexity of what needs doing and find satisfaction in knowing that some of what was done was “done good”.   Golf is hugely satisfying—and healthy—because the golfer’s entirely responsible for what gets done, for choosing the club, gripping the weapon and whacking the ball.  They make “golf happen.” And being “in control” in an “out of control” world is hugely healthy.

    “I Just Love Doing This” Good Health

    For many who visit the gym, good health is WORK. Weights—ugh.  Treadmill—ugh.  Push-ups—ugh.   Healthy, yes—but there’s no “I just love doing this” expressed by the pushers and the pullers, the spinners and the grunters.  Golf, by contrast, delivers The Whole Package—physical, mental and emotional—and the people who play, SMILE!!!  They laugh.  They glow.  They feel The Buzz.  And whenever you do something you LOVE, good health happens.

    Geoffrey, who is 94, joined Eaton Golf Club, Norwich, in 1934 and had been a member continuously for 82 years and 18 days when his record was certified. “Golf helped me a lot health-wise. Without it I don’t think I would be here, I think it has kept me very fit.”

    Geoffrey Crosskill Guinness World Record Holder as longest serving golf club member
    Good health is the foundation of The Good Life.  Without Good Health you’ll be an under performing boobie, fated to make less, enjoy less, absorb less, enlarge less and enrich less than the character who’s got The Goods.

    Modernity gives us lots of ways of climbing the good health mountain.  The gym.  Ugh.  The macro-biotic juice bar.  Ugh.  The grapefruit diet.  Ugh.

    Golf delivers Broad Spectrum Good Health—efficiently.  Golf is “The Drug of Choice”, the “Magic Elixir” for curing what ails us.

    So if you know someone who’s looking for a single “Good Health Investment,” whack ‘em in the side of the head and deliver The Message about the virtues of GOLF.

    Go golfing.  Get healthy.   Feel the glow.

    Spread the word.

    And enjoy the journey

    What?

    What examples can I learn from and what can I do to create a space for fitness fanatics at my facility?

    Best Practices and Industry Initiatives

    Below we have selected a number of forward thinking best practices and initiatives across the golf and sports industry. These examples are creative ways in which clubs and organisations have fostered the health benefits of golf to engage new and retain existing members.


    Share your best practices and initiatives with us, click here to submit.

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      Technology Tools

      With technology playing a major role in the development of the golf industry we have selected a number of new online platforms and applications available in the golf industry that can be used as tools to help push the health agenda of your club.


      Share your tech tools with us, click here to submit.

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        Video Resources

        Additional Reading

        A Controlled Trial of the Health Benefits of Regular Walking on a Golf Course

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