More than half of golf industry professionals report increase in mental health worries

New research from Syngenta reveals the worrying effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on golf club managers, greenkeepers and professionals

More than 60% of golf industry professionals say they have experienced increased work-related mental health issues over the last year, a new survey has found.

Research from Syngenta revealed nearly two thirds (or 64%) of golf club managers, greenkeepers and club professionals had felt anxious or worried, and more than half had experienced trouble sleeping.

Of the 256 respondents to the anonymous online survey, three admitted they’d had thoughts of self-harm or suicide, while 43% had felt depressed with a continuous low mood.

Just as worrying for the industry, only 21% of those who took part confirmed their employer had a mental health policy or wellbeing programme. 57% said their organisation did not offer support, while 22% were unsure.

Golf club staff have endured huge stresses during the coronavirus pandemic. They have been furloughed, greenkeeping teams have worked under essential maintenance provisions, and professionals have found their income streams massively curtailed as clubs have been shut.

Managers have operated largely on a crisis footing with clubs in England having been locked down three times since Covid emerged, while Welsh, Irish and Scottish clubs have also been subject to repeated shutdowns and restrictions.

With lockdown likely to continue in some form until the early summer, and the sport set to embark on a new boom when courses reopen, the pressure is likely to remain on the shoulders of golf club staff for some time to come.

The GCMA have recognised that wellness is a crucial part of their ethos, with the Association’s stated purpose to “make a positive difference to the golf industry by supporting the professional and personal wellbeing of our members”.

In January, they offered members a series of wellbeing wellness workshops, which were delivered online with wellbeing partner PES.

The Community Online Academy, as part of the Perks at Work membership benefit, is a free resource of live and on demand classes for adults and kids ranging from wellness, and fitness, to personal development – with an on-demand playlist comprising more than 2,500 videos.

Wellness is also a key module within the Principles of Golf Club Management training course and forms an important part of the GCMA’s Continued Professional Development offering.

Chief executive Tom Brooke said: “Mental health and wellbeing is such an important issue, now more so than ever, with the increasing pressures of everyday life and particularly under the current climate.

“We now see it as our responsibility to support our members with not only professional development, but personal development and wellbeing as well. Personal wellbeing is, of course, intrinsically linked to performance at work, and vice versa.

“So, we’re really proud to have invested in these new initiatives recently and we hope it makes a positive difference to the lives of our members and of their families.”

On the survey, Mark Birchmore, Syngenta Global Head of Marketing, Turf and Landscape, said: “While this is a snapshot survey, it provides evidence of what we have been hearing anecdotally throughout the pandemic, that mental health problems are prevalent.

“I’m especially worried for the three industry colleagues who reported the most severe symptoms and I would encourage anyone in this situation to urgently seek professional advice.

“For the industry, the survey highlights a potential gap between the prevalence of mental health problems and the level of support available.

“As an organisation, this is something Syngenta is addressing with accredited Mental Health First Aiders within our team, as well supporting important industry initiatives, including the online Mindful Leadership Sessions by the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association.

“But there is more to be done globally, which is why we are sharing the results of the survey with the golf industry, including bodies and associations, with a view to encouraging solutions.”

Syngenta’s research also revealed that more than half of respondents – some 11% of whom were club managers – said they had been aware of colleagues who had experienced mental health problems since March 2020.

By GCMA Content Team

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