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The Club is using golf to get people out of the rough

Old rich men, expensive gear, stuffy dress codes, archaic and eccentric member’s club rules – that’s golf isn’t it? The Club says it doesn’t have to be. With muck-about, chatty videos aimed at a younger audience across social media, they’re taking a more fun and progressive approach to the game. And now they’re teaming up with England Golf and CALM for a new project that pushes the positive mental health benefits of nine holes with your mates, it’s called This Club Talks and it’s launching with an event in Top Golf, Surrey on Wednesday 15 May.

We threw a few questions to Ryan, The Club’s founder and Jamie from England Golf to find out more…

Jamie, tell us about your work at England Golf

I’m the inclusion and wellbeing manager for England Golf. This covers not just disability but work with other partners around other under-represented groups. We’re currently running a campaign called #SwitchOffWithGolf. The message is simple. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got 30 minutes or four hours to spare, you can #SwitchOffWithGolf and relax.

There are 4.5 million people in England who used to class themselves as golfers. We want to get them back, playing in clubs, hitting balls on the driving range on their own or with friends or family. We plan to do it by showing that playing golf is time – and money – well spent. It’s the perfect way to switch off from the pressures of busy lives; it’s relaxing and it’s good for mental health

Ryan, tell us why you set up The Club 

We set it up with the idea to change the game of golf in our own little way. We want to show how great the sport is and dispel some of the myths about the game and its image by creating fun, relatable content for a more social and younger audience than the traditional golf market.

So what’s The Club’s main message to the wider golf community?

It’s about having fun but for me it’s challenging the norms in golf. Tradition is fine to a point but when it holds back progress it needs to be challenged, that’s what we want to do.

What makes The Club different to other golf organisations?

I think we’re confident enough to say what we actually think and ballsy enough to challenge the status quo. Some other organisations are the total opposite.

Golf is perceived to be kind of stuffy and exclusive, and has some fairly quaint ideas about men and women. Do you think that’s changing?

Jamie: We have a strong 650,000 club membership in England there are 2.5 million people who take part in some form of golf in England at least once a year. There is a greater range of facilities now, from Junkyard golfs and TopGolf’s and ranges using technology. There’s plenty to do but things are changing and golf facilities are recognising that what customers want is changing.

Ryan: I think it definitely is. Golf has always had a men’s club feel but all over the UK golf clubs are changing attitudes and progressing. We hope this initiative can accelerate that.

How do you think golf can be beneficial to mental health?

Ryan: I believe it’s a fairly unique sport in the fact it offers these four benefits to mental health. Exercise, being in the outdoors nature, focus and it’s a social sport too.

Jamie: Golf is a great way to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen because of work, family or health. Talking and sharing is a huge part of getting things in perspective and often finding out that you’re not the only one struggling with things and from there knowing there’s people wanting to help you.

A round of golf is a perfect mirror for life, there’s the good and the bad and the lucky and the unlucky that happen but at the end of the day we do it together and we get to the clubhouse and we share the stories and reflect.

Personally I’ve struggled at times in my life with my mental health but my friends, many of whom are from sport have been important in helping me get back to being my best self.

What are your plans for This Club Talks?

Ryan: We want to raise money for CALM through golfers and our community. Following on from that we want to train golf club staff up with Mental Health First Aid training whilst also creating a large community of golfers and golf clubs who buy into our philosophies and best practises with regards to being open about mental health both on and offline. If one person’s mental health is helped due to playing golf because of something we’ve done it’ll have been a success.

Fancy some good chat and whacking a few golf balls?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

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