With golf back, and everyone tentatively returning to a normal routine, we met up with Michelle Baker, CEO of the Melanoma Fund and creator of the Slip! Slap! Swing! campaign. She is set on getting your club involved in the fight against skin cancer What is the Slip! Slap! Swing! campaign? Slip! Slap! Swing! is a FREE prevention campaign which raises awareness of sun protection and skin checking in a bid to impact the high levels of skin cancer which affect golfers and greenkeepers. Our aim is to get golf clubs Sun Protection Accredited, putting into place simple but effective actions that will educate and protect their staff and members. The campaign was everywhere last year. How did you manage that? It certainly was not a result of a big budget, but more the generous support and belief of the golf industry. From the backing of every county body and overarching organisation, countless trade and consumer editorial articles, golf organisations offering us free ad space, endorsements from our incredible team of ambassadors…and the clubs who signed up first. It all really helped us create noise. How did COVID affect your roll out? We soft launched the idea in 2019 to get feedback from the industry which was really positive. I admit we were sceptical about launching our Sun Protection Accreditation scheme in 2020 due to the lockdowns. However, with the encouragement of Craig Cotterill at the GCMA and Stephen Carpenter at the PGA, we agreed we should just go for it in June. It could have gone either way, but thankfully it worked! How many clubs did you get on board last year? We started off getting a few smaller clubs signed up by calling them personally and it just snowballed from there. After a few months, the bigger clubs in the UK and Ireland started signing, as well as most of the major golf groups. It took lots of phone calls and emails, but gradually they started coming back! In September we sailed past our target of 250 clubs, getting over 350 signed up last year. This still only represents around 10% of clubs, so there is still lots to do! Why did you select golf and not cricket or tennis? I work closely with melanoma surgeons, dermatologists and GPs and take their advice on who we should be targeting with our campaigns, which are aimed at high-risk groups. Many mentioned that golfers are always in and out of their surgeries, which led to talks with England Golf about the idea. They were the first to agree to come on board, followed by every other major golf organisation, including the PGA and R&A, which gave us the inspiration to keep moving forward. With regards to tennis and cricket, watch this space! Do you do think golfers don’t take sun protection seriously? Despite the overwhelming evidence on how dangerous too much UV exposure can be, a recent survey undertaken by SMS Marketing for the Melanoma Fund revealed that only 42% of golfers use sunscreen when the weather required it, and a massive 72% never reapply it when on the fairway. With nearly 30% admitting they avoid sun protection, in favour of a tan, it could be that many are in denial and we aim to change that attitude. How rife is skin cancer? It is an epidemic and the most common cancer in the world today, with nearly 152,000 new non-melanoma skin cancer cases reported in the UK every year - that's more than 410 every day (2015-2017), with men more prone due to their habits. Although rare, rates of melanoma - the most serious form - have more than doubled in the UK in the last...
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