Golf: Still an old man’s sport?

By Callum Ferguson

As a golfer, I would say that the sport requires skill and intelligence. However, there are many stereotypes surrounding golf, with many people having different views on ‘what golf is’.

Everyone has heard it before. Golf is just a game of old men who wear silly clothes and belong to the upper-class. But is this a fair assessment of the game that I love so much?

“I teach a lot of children at the weekends”, said Glyn Bateman, a teaching professional at Lottbridge Golf Club.

Glyn felt strongly in his opinion and believes that there are lots of junior golfers getting into the sport.

He believes that despite the rise in junior numbers, more could still be done. “The government need to get golf into schools.” He continued to say, “compared to tennis, golf isn’t looked at in schools. England Golf needs to give grants (to get it into schools).”

When looking at the top 100 golfers and tennis players, there is a stark contrast.

Within the top 10 golfers in the world, there are currently two Englishmen. Justin Rose (first) and Tommy Fleetwood (tenth).

With regard to the top 10 tennis players in the world, there are no Englishmen. The highest seeded Englishmen, at the time of writing, is 14th seed Kyle Edmund.

There is a similar pattern when looking at the top 100 players for the two sports. In the top 100 golfers, there are ten Englishmen. However, only two Englishmen make the top 100 tennis players, with Cameron Norrie currently ranked 86th in the world.

When looking at the large majority of the top 100 players, it is clear to see that they have many things in common. One of them being their athletic builds.

“There is more evidence than ever to say that golf is becoming increasingly athletic. When Tiger woods won the Masters tournament in 1997, his superior length off the tee overwhelmed the rest of the field”, said Tom Lawrence who plays for his college team at Thomas University, Georgia.

He continued to say, “This inspired a generation of golfers to build their bodies like Tiger and hit the balls miles. Nowadays, PGA tour players average close to 300 yards and work out regularly.”

Some of the world’s top players are reaching levels of athleticism never seen before such as Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka or most importantly the emerging Cameron Champ. These golfers average driver swing speeds of 125-130mph,” he continued to say.

Lawrence went on to mention how women golfers are treated very differently to men.

“Golf, like many sports, likes to discredit the potential of female competitors. Countless times I’ve seen women experience sexist comments on the golf course,” he said.

“I once played a match against a 14 year old girl (I was 13). Despite it being almost seven years ago I’ll never forget the disgusting amount of sexist comments she received from male golfers, mostly over the age of 50 as we went around the golf course.

“When her mother joined to watch around halfway, I remember her saying ‘they kept on saying things again’, evidence that this was routine for her.

“Even now some highly prolific clubs do not allow female members, which in 2018 is simply unacceptable. Admittedly, the women’s game has grown fantastically in the last 20 years, but there is still work to do.”

This story by Lawrence is another indication that more needs to be done to help women golfers.

Another stereotype that is prominent in the game is the dress code. Golfers are often described as “old men that wear chequered trousers,” says Head Professional at the Royal Eastbourne Golf Club, Mark Packford.

In order to combat this, the Royal Eastbourne are “trying to relax the dress code”, says Packford. He believes that this along with tackling the high cost of equipment and accessibility to golf courses ‘will get new golfers in.’

It is widely understood by golfers from all over the world that there are issues that need to be tackled in golf in order to make the sport better.

However, it is clear to see that the changes are being made to help make golf a sport for all.

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