NEW ZEALAND IS FACING A MAJOR CHANGE IN ITS SOCIO-CULTURAL MAKE UP OVER THE NEXT 20 YEARS, WHICH WILL SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACT ON THE DEMAND FOR AND PROVISION OF SPORT AND RECREATION.
Murray Ward, Chairman of NZ Golf Inc. gives some thoughts on golf today.
Traditional sporting models and codes are under threat from these rapid societal changes and the global trends towards inactivity. The face of New Zealand is changing, and the way people want to engage in sport is changing.
Sport NZ believe ‘if we don’t act now, our sporting culture, and all of the benefits it provides to New Zealand and New Zealanders, could be lost’.
Golf is a game that is important to New Zealanders, holding a special place in the nation’s sporting landscape. Golf was first played in New Zealand at the Otago Golf Club in 1871, therefore in two years’ time we will celebrate 150 years of golf in this country.
For New Zealand as a sporting nation, golf provides some of the most memorable occasions in our history. The names of Sir Bob Charles, Michael Campbell and Lydia Ko are synonymous with the very pinnacle of New Zealand sporting success. They are athletes whose success has inspired generationsof New Zealanders from all walks of life.
Golf is by no means immune to the challenges facing sport and following international trends we have seen a decline in the number of people joining clubs and the number of rounds played.
It’s crucial that the sport embraces the future and plans effectively to meet the changing needs of participants. This means not only sustaining what we currently have in terms of grass roots participation and performance success but delivering a sport that attracts a new generation of participants who develop a lifelong love of the game.
Golf is distinctive from other sports and has tradition and history that encompasses a value set that is unrivalled. We must ensure we don’t lose these values as we move forward.
It is the only sport that can be played competitively and equitably across all facilities in all conditions by participants of all ages and skill levels. Most importantly, golf is a game that provides diverse and wide ranging experiences for participants including unique set of health, wellbeing, competitive and social benefits. Golf has a significant and positive impact on our lives. This impact is realised through social, environmental, economic and community outcomes for New Zealand and its people.
Golf contributes significantly to the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders for all ages. An 18 hole round of golf can involve walking up to nine kilometres and around 12,000 steps. Golf’s physical health benefits include the treatment and prevention of more than 40 major chronic diseases.
Golf has a culture based on respect for others and is a significant contributor to philanthropy.
Golf’s role in the environment extends past acting as green buffers. There is good evidence of a positive relationship between levels of neighbourhood greenspace and mental health and well-being.
And of course, the golf sector contributes significantly to the economy. It is estimated it contributes over $1billion in GDP per annum through employment, golf tourism, course construction and maintenance.
So, as we plan for next year and beyond we must recognise and accommodate this change to realise our opportunities and ensure the game of golf continues to thrive. It will demand leadership that develops a united vision and a strong positive direction for the game, a robust golf administration network that appropriately supports the growth of the sector particularly at grass roots level, world class technology systems that support the game, a strong and capable workforce (paid and voluntary) and an inspiring network of amateur and professional coaches.
Established in 1871, the Otago Golf Club in Balmacewen, Dunedin is the oldest club in the Southern Hemisphere.