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  • Alistair Tait

Will Golf for Good outlast Grow the Game?

Golf has a new buzz phrase. The European Tour launched it yesterday. It’s “Golf for Good.”

Will it outlast “Grow the Game?” Remember that slogan?

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, who yesterday re-launched the 2020 European Tour, has enlisted Dr Andrew Murray of Edinburgh University as an integral part of his executive leadership team. Murray, a sports medicine physician, is ostensibly on board to help the tour navigate the coronavirus hurdles as golf struggles to get back to normal. The Canadian hopes Murray will fulfil a bigger goal going forward.

“We will also highlight and promote the many benefits that health provides, the health benefits provided by our wonderful sport,” Pelley said. “I mention Dr. Murray, whose Ph. D thesis was written on the awareness of golf and its benefits to health submitted to the University of Edinburgh. We'll be relying on him as we continue to push this message.”

Murray was part of a team involved in a research project entitled: “Do golf fans walk the talk? Follow-up of spectators’ beliefs and self-reported physical activity 3 months after they attended a professional golf tournament in the UK.”

The team provided a leaflet to 326 people at a European Tour event on physical activity (PA) and health. Of the 135 people who responded to the subsequent questionnaire

“68.0% ‘agreed/strongly agreed’ that their knowledge relating to PA had increased, 65.1% agreed/strongly agreed that receiving this information at the event made them consider increasing physical activity in daily life and 40.4% reported that they had increased their physical activity during the 3 months after the golf tournament.”

Pelley is keen to push golf's health benefits as the tour restarts. He said:

“What makes our sport special is we provide so many health benefits, and this is the first time people are talking about it outside of our sport. So, we are going to drive this message home this year in every single broadcast that we do.
“We have a good opportunity from our game to showcase it in a completely different way, the walking 18 holes is 10,000 steps and so forth. We are going to promote this game this year, and the health benefits that it brings.”

Pelley is not alone in trying to spread the health benefits message. The R&A has been preaching the significance of golf to health and well being too.

Earlier this year, a study in the United States found playing golf can potentially add 10 years to someone’s life. University of Missouri in Columbia neurologist Prof Adnan Qureshi, lead author of the study, said:

“Regular exercise, exposure to a less polluted environment and social interactions provided by golf are all positive for health.”

Isn’t sad we’ve reached the point where we have to tell people what should be patently obvious: the more you walk, the more exercise you take, the better it will be for your health? It's right up there with you won’t damage your lungs if you don’t smoke; if you don’t drink your liver will be better for it.

The benefits of this game have been obvious since that old shepherd hit a pebble with his crook on a beach somewhere on the east coast of Scotland and decided to walk after it to see if he could hit it better.

Over 100 years ago, Benjamin Rush, whose signature is on the American Declaration of Independence, noted:

“Golf is an exercise which is much used by the gentlemen of Scotland…. The late Dr McKenzie, author of Health and Long Life, used to say that a man would live 10 years longer for using this exercise once or twice week.”

Or as Shivas Irons said:

“Enjoy the walkin’. The game was meant for walkin’.”

So, fair play to Pelley and the European Tour for jumping on the physical activity band wagon. I hope the "good for golf" buzz phrase, no matter how bleeding obvious, lasts longer than “grow the game.”

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