Hundreds of people hit a ball for the first time last month as Glendale Golf’s second Festival of Golf enjoyed a triumphant return, once again smashing targets UK-wide.
Six centres managed by Glendale Golf each attracted an average of over 125 brand-new golfers during the month-long Festival in August 2016. In total, over 750 absolute beginners hit balls at the six venues, which stretch from London to Lancashire, plus Hampshire, West Sussex, Essex, and Nottinghamshire.
“We set out to beat last year’s total, and we sailed past it,” said Tom Brooke, Managing Director at Glendale Golf. “If you include families who played FootGolf for the very first time, we had well over 900 actual first-time participants in just four weeks – which is a stunning result given the general feeling that golf is struggling to attract newcomers these days.”
And Glendale Golf will not stop there. “With two successful festivals behind us, we are now looking at having this sort of activity on our calendar more regularly,” said Brooke. “Putting our golf centres at the heart of the community – even if you simply want somewhere to have a great cup of coffee and a chat with friends – is absolutely central to what we are aiming for.
“As regards golf participation, we can do this, as an industry. If we can persuade almost 1,000 complete newcomers to actually participate, in just one month, at just six golf clubs, imagine what would happen if a thousand golf clubs made the same sort of effort. My advice to other clubs is to be more open-minded, motivate your staff to have the right attitude, put in the hours, and get your message out to the local community.”
Abbie Lench, Head of Club Support at England Golf, said: “As part of England Golf’s strategy, ‘Raising Our Game’, we not only want to encourage people to give golf a go for the first time, but we want to encourage them to participate on a regular basis. Glendale Golf’s second Festival Of Golf demonstrates that the first part is achievable if you have a team of people focused and passionate about that goal, and we congratulate them on their success.
“In terms of getting newcomers to come back, it clearly requires ongoing commitment and focus. We are delighted to support initiatives such as these as they strive to achieve our mutual goals of growing the game, and a reversal of the recent decline in membership.”
“The evidence is clear – with the right direction, and the right level of activity, people will give golf a try for the first time,” concluded Tom Brooke. “In the UK of course, the weather can scupper your plans at any time of year, so we feel that it is important to always be working on this, rather than on simply putting the odd date in the calendar. We miss out on a lot of potential growth, as an industry, owing to badly-planned ‘grow the game’ events, and I think this proves that a more long-term approach is needed.”