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EU health push focuses on golf

At St Andrews this week, major organisations from the European golf sector will gather with researchers at the University of St Andrews in an effort to better describe the health benefits of golf, and to explore ways to increase participation across the EU.

The new GoGolf Europe project has successfully secured co-funding from the European Commission under Erasmus+, the EU programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport for 2014 to 2020. The project will unite five European countries – the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, the Netherlands and Portugal – in a three year initiative designed to test innovative new access pathways to golf for European youth while also documenting the unique health benefits which the sport can provide to all people.

In conjunction with the European Golf Association (EGA), the project will unite the National Golf Governing Bodies of the five participating countries alongside the PGAs of Europe, the European Observatoire of Sport and Employment and the University of St Andrews as the official research partner. Alongside the funding support from the European Union, co-financing will also be provided by the PGA European Tour and the EGA.

Current rates of physical inactivity are worryingly high, as evidenced by the recently published 2014 Eurobarometer report on Sport and Physical Activity which found that 59 percent of EU citizens never or seldom exercise or play sport at least once a week; almost three-quarters of EU citizens say that they are not members of any club, a seven percent increase since 2009.

Alongside the GoGolf Europe project mobilisation meetings taking place during The Open in St Andrews, representatives from the University of St Andrews will also take part in further meetings concerning the growing global research agenda around the health and wellbeing benefits of golf participation.

Richard Heath (pictured), general secretary of the European Golf Association (EGA), the organisation leading the project, commented, “Europe has excellent capacity for golf with over 6,700 courses and some 7.9 million citizens already playing the sport. Nonetheless, we are facing significant challenges in effectively engaging young people to take up the sport and we are actively seeking innovative new solutions for growing youth participation.”