In Praise Of Golf And Saving Golf Courses

No, it’s not about the ruined Beacon Park Golf Course which is probably beyond redemption. Recently it was announced that the Harry Colt-designed 18-hole Allestree Park Golf Course in Derbyshire has been told it must permanently close at the end of December.

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But the owner of a Nottinghamshire Golf Club has said he hopes to save the venue. Alan Hardy said he has contacted Derby City Council, the owner of Allestree Golf Club, offering to hold talks around formulating a rescue package.

According to Hardy said “I was saddened to hear once again how another golf club is about to close its doors. I’ve spoken to Derby City Council and I understand the club isn’t viable in its current guise which I understand as it is a very tough economic time and many businesses are being forced to review the future

“I understand also that they want to turn it to parkland, which is appealing as people need free green spaces to spend time in particularly during times of ongoing restrictions and lockdowns but I can’t help but wonder is there a compromise so that golf can continue on the site?

“In my experience of running a successful golf club, and using the lessons learned at The Nottinghamshire, I feel that there may be an opportunity to save Allestree. Multiple jobs could be created if made viable, and maybe working with the council we can find a way to make elements of this open to the public to enjoy the areas of natural beauty as well.

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“I would very much welcome the opportunity to sit down with the team at Derby City Council to see if we can create something for the wider community as well as creating job opportunities and ensuring golf is available as a sport, effectively creating a rescue package.

There were three developments that took place in November that could have significant ramifications for the golf industry, moving forward. The government is aware that business rates can be unfair for golf clubs. This is particularly relevant because some Covid financial support has been based on the rates golf clubs pay.

Produced by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, a report found that some golf clubs pay more than double the rates of others the same size, with some paying more than three times others despite having the same number of members.
An MP has submitted the report to the treasury and said it “makes the case very clearly that the application of business rates across the UK is not consistent for golf clubs and that there are alternatives that can be applied”.

Golf is even better for you than was thought. We’ve known for a while that golf is linked to physical and mental wellbeing, but now Stephen Smith, the chief neuroscientist at Sport Psychology Ltd

has reviewed a 10-step ‘model for happiness – particularly in a pandemic’, created by the head of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, and concluded that golf fulfils all 10 steps, such as ‘keep moving’ and ‘don’t let go of purpose’.. On top of that, a US study of 135 golf courses has found that they offer major benefits to their local environment, particularly surrounding temperatures, pollinating, retaining stormwater nutrients and biodiversity.

“It is critical to the health of our communities, particularly in urban areas, that golf courses are viewed through the same lens as a city park” concluded one of the researchers.

The model was created by Professor Paul Dolan

the head of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, and the 10 steps were: Go outside; Keep moving; Keep talking and listening; Ask for help – don’t become lonely; Help others; Accept that it is hard; Value what you have; Do sweat the small stuff; Don’t let go of purpose; and Remember we are all different.

Dr Smith has gone through each step and written about its application to golf. ‘Go outside – humans were not designed for living in buildings. Spending time out in the natural environment lifts our spirits. Golf is a game that takes many a suburban or city dweller out of the city and into the fresh air that they might not, otherwise, seek without their passion for this game,’ he wrote.

‘Keep moving – exercise has countless benefits, psychological and physical. For many people, hard cardiovascular options are beyond them, so a sport that demands use of many joints and gives a moderately paced workout in fresh air over a number of hours is the perfect solution.

‘Keep talking and listening – few sports enable participants to engage with others as much as this game. There is a lot of walking between shots which gives us the time to share and listen with those we are out with. Humans are primates and primates are incredibly social – we are driven to engage with other people.

‘Ask for help – don’t become lonely: Linked to the point is the fact that loneliness is one of the greatest silent killers in the UK and has always been linked to higher levels of morbidity. Such a social sport enables players to create strong connections making it easier to ask for help – or offer it.

‘Help others – helping others is another inbuilt aspect of primate behaviour- it’s in our genetic programming. Primates live in troops and the troop can only function if everyone helps and cooperates. Knowing that you have done a small deed that day that has been completely altruistic and has helped another member of society is incredibly powerful for feelings of self-worth and wellbeing. Golf gives players a chance to reach out and deliver this need. It could be by listening to a personal issue and offering advice or simply by helping to search for another player’s lost ball. The benefit of helping others cannot be underestimated.

As has been said “Football and rugby matches with the players climbing all over each other, considered ok. Golf cannot be played? What?” And “I totally agree with you, why can they let 22 men on a football pitch kissing and cuddling and not let people on a golf course where you can social distance easier?”

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