BGIA Column

New BGIA Chairman, Nigel Freemantle writes his first column.  The BGIA will have the opportunity to write in this monthly column with any news and views from the Industry.

Freemantle took over the Chair from Doug Poole in April at the very popular BGIA Golf Day at Woburn.  Recently returned from the Golf Industry Lunch at Muirfield, Freemantle reflects on the state of the industry in 2013.

“The statistics that we have from SMS for 2012 and the first half of 2013 have shown a steady decline in rounds played on UK courses, with membership challenges being the toughest for many years.”  Freemantle goes on to explain some of the plans in place to try and change this.

“The BGIA executive and its partners are spear-heading some initiatives to try and resolve the age-long negativities that surround the game of golf.  One such initiative will be the introduction of a ‘Golf Month’ in 2014, which will help create more awareness of the benefits of golf and try to dispel the stigma that often surrounds it.  ‘Golf Month’ will highlight what many of the UK’s golf clubs can offer new members or just those million or so golfers whose interest has lapsed and needs re-invigorating!”

In his speech at Muirfield, Freemantle told the audience of his huge passion for the sport that he has been involved with for a third of a century, and how determined he is to put back into the game the joys that it has brought to him over the years.  He is both honoured and delighted to be voted in as Chairman. Freemantle went on to say “Golf has so many benefits; it’s an endless challenge, it has unique respect for its opponents, it has care for the environment, it has regard to its tutors, rules and regulations, and not least a comprehensive etiquette for life skills.”

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“During my time at Muirfield, I had the pleasure of watching Tom Watson receive an award on behalf of The Golf Foundation” Freemantle says.  “At the Kidzone Tom made a very passionate speech to the children present, about his love of golf and what it has given to him throughout his life and career as a professional golfer.”  This along with Phil Michelson’s very humble win and acceptance of this year’s Open, and the fantastic achievement of the quietly confident Justin Rose, all help to change the perception that golf is a staid sport for the older generation.  The Solheim Cup commences in August and we look forward to a thrilling set of matches between some of the World’s best lady golfers.  Ladies golf being extensively televised by the BBC and Sky will all help towards uptake of new players and seeing some long overdue changes in club memberships.

The forthcoming  Golf Show held from the 8th – 10th October at the Harrogate International Centre, is Europe’s leading golf trade and educational event, open to the PGA’s 6,000-plus members across the continent. The BGIA have their own lounge area at the show where they invite their members to use their facilities for meetings or to just relax with some refreshments after a hard day at the show.

The British Golf Industry Association (BGIA) is the lead trade body representing UK manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of golf products and services, and operates as one of the trade associations under the auspices of the Federation of Sports & Play Associations (FSPA).