Golf Business International’s Anthony Blackburn and John Bushell were among the presenters at the recent inaugural International Congress on Golf & Health (ICGH).
The agenda for the launch of the ICGH was agreed at the world’s flagship physical activity and public health event, the biennial Congress of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH).
Evidence linking golf and health, commissioned by the World Golf Foundation and supported by The R&A, was presented at ISPAH, and a global consensus was reached, backing golf in the race to tackle physical inactivity and the prevention of a range of non-communicable disease (NCD) including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer of the breast and colon.
And when the ICGH was launched at High Elms GC, in Kent, Blackburn and Bushell were invited to address the delegates.
Blackburn, a social entrepreneur, is behind Golf in Society, a project which delivers person-centred golf sessions for people with chronic illnesses and which have proved particularly beneficial to those suffering with dementia or Parkinson’s disease.
He said: “It was inspiring to listen to all the great work the scientists and researchers are doing to prove the health and well-being benefits of golf. To know that getting involved in golf is being endorsed by the World Health Organisation, our health ministers and leading academics was music to my ears.
“Getting the chance to address the conference and show how golf is improving the lives of families living with dementia and Parkinson’s disease was a very special moment. Promoting golf as a preferred lifetime activity has massive potential for the industry and that was endorsed by researchers from across the globe.”
Bushell, the managing director of SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC., added: “The R&A’s investment and support for the first International Golf & Health Congress enabled so many strands of the health and golf benefits debate to be discussed. The work SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. completed looked at the comparisons on how golfers feel about their general health and life satisfaction compared to the rest of the population in Great Britain.
“From our work, it is clear golfers feel healthier than the general population, with 72 per cent of golfers stating they consider themselves to be in good health compared to only 51 per cent of the national population. Their emotional wellbeing is considerably higher, and the risk of loneliness is substantially lower than non-golfers.
“It really does illustrate the health benefits of the sport. It really should be seen as a ‘sport for life’ and if there could be ‘social prescriptions’ for those who are more at risk of poor health, inactivity, and isolation to go to the golf club – even if not to play golf in a traditional manner – then this is not just good for our game, but fundamentally good for the health and happiness in society.”
The scientific consensus for golf is evidenced in research led by the University of Edinburgh and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Findings reveal that playing golf is associated with a range of physical and mental health benefits, and further collaborative efforts to improve access for the sport are needed.
Formed originally as the Golf Consultants Association in 1999, Golf Business International, which rebranded in 2017 and is now a ‘preferred partner’ of England Golf, is unique in its ability to make available a team of highly respected and experienced golf industry professionals to deal with any aspect of the business of golf through from conception to end.