A report commissioned by England Golf and the Professional Golfers’ Association has found that the social benefits of golf extend far beyond the green, with volunteers having as much to gain as players.
The new research into the social value generated by golf identified that volunteering accounts for a fifth (20%) of the overall benefits for society. With an average of 88 hours given up per unpaid helper every year, volunteering is responsible for £359.18 million out of the £1,800.06 million rewards created by the popular sport.
What’s more, the study, carried out by the Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) at Sheffield Hallam University. has shown that the positive side-effects of volunteering are two-fold. Not only can individuals boost their own personal wellbeing but their in-kind input also adds social capital to the organisation they donate their time to. With a further £178.8 million coming from the social capital associated with volunteering, unpaid golf participation accounts for nearly a third (29.9%) of the total (£537.98 million) benefits to society from the sport.
Volunteering has long been acknowledged within golf but the new report ensures the position of the 50,000 estimated golf volunteers across England is fully recognised.
Nick Pink, Chief Executive of England Golf, said: “We have had a strategy in place for a few years directly addressing the needs and requirements of volunteers and this report highlights not only that our policies are working but if anything, the work they do needs to be further recognised. Whilst people are increasingly aware of the benefits of regular sports participation, this study demonstrates that volunteering can be just as important in terms of social value.
“From spending more time outside in beautiful countryside to being part of a team, this latest research showcases how the feel-good factor of investing your spare time in something you love can also bring wellbeing to your larger community. It really is a win-win situation.”
Golf volunteering can take many forms in both the recreational and professional game. Recreationally, volunteers undertake a wide range of roles at club, county, regional and national levels. These can range from being club captain to event organiser, squad manager, referee, junior organiser, fund raisers and administrators, to name just a few. For the professional game, it is the volunteers that make the international tours and championships the success they are both in terms of the experiences of players and fans but also the fundraising and charitable donations as a result.
Robert Maxfield, Chief Executive of the PGA, said: “Volunteers are vital in safeguarding a healthy future for the sport. The PGA has long recognised the many roles volunteers carry out and the hours of time they give and it is encouraging they too receive personal reward from their involvement. PGA Professionals provide important support and enjoy a close working relationship with volunteers at many levels. This mutually beneficial relationship will only grow stronger as we all work together to promote the game and its development.
With autumn an ideal time to explore new hobbies, England Golf hopes these findings will encourage potential volunteers to explore how they could boost their happiness levels and spread the benefits across their community by donating their time to local golf organisations.
England Golf actively promotes golf through a range of campaigns directly targeting the consumer, including Get into Golf, Women’s Month in June and the Family Golf in July through partnerships with county unions, associations and county golf partnerships, golf clubs and volunteers.