Captain’s Corner: October

Howard Williams

Howard Williams believes the heath benefits of golf are clear.

I attended the #MoreThanGolf conference, run by England Golf at Villa Park in June – the aim of which was to encourage innovation in golf, which is essential to protect the future of the game.

While a number of new formats were highlighted, including Golf Sixes, Golf in the Community, British Speedgolf and Topgolf, the presentation by Dr Steve Mann,

from UK Active, really caught my attention. He champions the fun and enjoyment that being active can bring and the related health benefits with which golf can be positively linked – providing some detailed research information.

UK Active is a not-for-profit body comprising of members and partners across the UK lifestyle sector, with the emphasis on getting more people more active more often and therefore improving the health of the nation.

On average, a golfer walking a typical 18 hole course will cover approximately 4.5 to five miles. This is assuming they keep to the ‘cut and prepared!’ This is one of the tangible health benefits both for golfers and, potentially, the wider community.

Dr Mann shared some amazing statistics showing the reduction of risks in chronic conditions.

Six specific conditions were highlighted: hip fractures, diabetes, CVD stroke, colon cancer, depression or dementia and breast cancer. The minimum reduction rate was around 20% but, in some conditions, the rate peaked at over 40%. Dr Mann then asked the following questions:

  • Could there be a role for golf in the promotion of better health?
  • How could the golf community link with the medical community?
  • Is there an appetite for the golfing community to actively promote health benefits?
  • Are changes needed in attitude and culture?

Elements of the research have led to England Golf running pilot projects with the Stroke Association in various areas of the country. They have recently completed a successful programme, in Cheshire at Malkins Bank GC, resulting in health and social benefits. There are further pilot projects with the Macmillan organisation and a GP referral scheme in operation and this is an obvious area for future expansion.

It’s certainly food for thought.

The more active we can become as individuals, and therefore as a nation, the less we will need to rely on the National Health Service. The cost-savings could be immense.

There are clear health benefits for golfers. Why not get your local doctor to refer their patients to your golf club instead of the gym?

Prevention is better than cure so why not push the health benefits of the game in your next recruitment drive?

The next time you miss a left to right uphill putt and you feel the world is against you, remember, it’s for the good of your health.

By Marie Taylor

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