Monty criticises golf’s image
Former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has warned that golf venues are suffering from negative stereotypes about the game.
The president of the junior golf charity, the Golf Foundation, was responding to a Sport England Active People survey that found that the number of people who played golf in England in 2011 had dropped to 833,200. In 2007 the figure was 948,300.
“Golf has had this elitist feel for too long,” he said. “It’s my job, along with the Golf Foundation, to break down that barrier and get school kids to play the game.
“We are trying to get up to one million new golfers playing the game in Britain by the time 2013 comes along and, of course, when you think about the opportunity we have with the Ryder Cup playing here in 2014, that’s a fantastic initiative.”
Montgomerie was speaking to Sky Sports during the recent Masters’ tournament. The broadcaster then showcased two golf clubs – one proprietary and one private – to help Montgomerie achieve his aim of proving that golf is changing.
The first, Hoebridge Golf Centre in Surrey, markets itself as a venue for families.
Mike O’Connell, club manager, told millions of viewers: “We have a very simple philosophy. We want to break down the barriers that golf has to encourage younger people to start up the game of golf and enjoy it for what it is – a fun sporting activity.
“Unlike many private clubs, we don’t have the issue of dress code, which restricts entry into the game of golf. We offer golf for everybody and we welcome golfers from as young as four to take up the game of golf here.”
Prestbury Golf Club in Cheshire was also featured. One lady member explained that she now has the same rights as her male counterparts. “Ladies can now play at any time,” she said. “In the past the restrictions have been very much loaded towards the gentlemen. We now have our equality and enjoy the course at all times.”