New research suggests that Golf club volunteers across England are having a major impact on the future of the sport.
In a study to identify the secrets of keeping golf club members happy, contented and loyal, researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University have discovered that one of the major motivations of volunteers’ involvement is the influence they can have on the strategic direction of their clubs and local authorities.
The research, commissioned by amateur golf’s governing body England Golf, surveyed over 2,000 men and women who regularly volunteer at golf clubs and events across the country.
There are currently over 50,000 volunteers working at 2,000 clubs in England who carry out roles such as chair, captain, junior organiser and chair of the green committee. This number almost trebles when golf’s wider volunteering community is included.
Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan, led by Dr Chris Mackintosh, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management, and supported by PhD researcher Chris Mills, are working with 70 clubs to understand volunteers and their needs.
Dr Mackintosh said: “Our research has shown the importance of retaining golf club members and volunteers as their passion for the sport and desire to make a difference will shape the future direction of the sport.
“Golf is one of the top five sports in the UK and England Golf has identified the importance of retaining the thousands members who are a key support at events such as the Open Championship and qualifying rounds, as well as the role they play in community club golf infrastructure.”
Increased and improving support for female volunteers is also identified in the research as a positive impact England Golf has facilitated.
The finding comes as a result of the governing body’s strategy to attract more women and girls into golf in order to grow the game over the next three years.
Richard Flint, England Golf Participation and Club Support Director, said: “England Golf is committed to making golf attractive to a diverse audience and we are using research and insight to help us do this.
“Golf is a game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds and possibly has the widest variety of volunteer roles in sport. We recognise that volunteering can be a great avenue to bring new people into the game.”
The pioneering research was recently discussed at the UK Sport Development Network (UKSDN) 2018 Conference at University Centre Hartpury near Gloucester, which brought practitioners and academics together to discuss the key issues community sport is facing.
Dr Mackintosh added: “The findings from our research with England Golf have given us a unique insight into the role that volunteering can play in social inclusion and the development of community sport.
“Bringing together delegates and decision makers from a range of sports organisations, including the Rugby Football Union, the PGA and England Golf, can maximise the impact of our research.”