First words…

For 2007/08 Sport England is putting £4.2million of lottery cash into canoeing and about £1.7million into golf. Now I’ve nothing against canoeing, but according to the British Canoeing Union (which has a membership of just 30,000) an estimated two million people go near a canoe each year – a figure we can probably compare to the four million or so folks that wield a golf club at some stage.
At the recent BGIA AGM at Woburn, Sport England’s commercial director Thomas Godfrey hinted that golf’s fractured administration was one of the reasons behind their low investment in the game, relative to participation. In 2000 at Wentworth the then chief executive of UK Sport, Richard Callicott, held up a piece of paper with 15 governing bodies on it, to illustrate why golf was a tough investment for the government. Eight years on, and nothing much has changed.
Except that it has. Golf is making big efforts on its own behalf that should not go unrewarded. The England Golf Partnership – a joining of the English Golf Union (EGU), English Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) & the PGA, shows that attempts are being made to present a clearer lobbying voice.
Meanwhile the BGIA’s own Grow Golf initiative, set up last year, is already bearing fruit; £30,000, contributed into the Golf Foundation’s excellent Golf Roots scheme, has seen cities targetted lifted from 9 to 17.
It’s a boost, but the Golf Foundation remains a hard-working yet underfunded charity whose objectives on boosting grass roots participation happen to overlap with the governments.
For all its administrators golf continues to run a very tight ship with zero scandals and excellent high-profile role models. Ally to this the unique physical, spiritual and moral benefits the game will always lavish on its participants and you surely have the ideal candidate for greater government investment.
And unless you’re a Brit at Augusta, it’s a lot drier than canoeing.
Duncan Lennard