Delegates from across Europe gathered at Wentworth Club today for a European Golf Federations’ Conference exploring some of the challenges and key opportunities for golf particularly through the reintroduction of golf into the Olympics.
Hosted by The European Tour and chaired by Chief Executive George O’Grady, representatives from 16 European Federations, the International Golf Federation, The R&A, European Golf Association, Ladies European Tour and PGA’s of Europe joined The European Tour for a series of key note presentations and discussions focused on the future of the game at both the professional and amateur level.
The discussion kicked off with a session on “Golf in the Olympics” with O’Grady, who instigated the conference ahead of his transition to becoming President of International Relations when he steps down as Chief Executive in the summer, being joined on the panel by Peter Dawson, Chief Executive The R&A and President of the IGF, Antony Scanlon, Executive Director, IGF, Ivan Khodabakhsh, Chief Executive of the Ladies European Tour, and David Garland, The European Tour’s Director of Tour Operations, as they presented an overview of the Olympic effect.
The “Challenges Facing Europe” session explored areas such as improving the image of the game, how venues are reacting to a changing leisure environment and how the Tour can strengthen the links between the amateur and professional game with Mark Lichtenhein, The European Tour’s Head of TV, Digital Media and Technology, David MacLaren, Director of European Tour Properties, and Alain de Soultrait, Director of European Challenge Tour, leading the debate.
Some case studies centred around golf participation, presented by Christophe Muniesa, General Secretary, French Golf Federation, Marcus Neumann, Member of the Board – Sports, German Golf Federation, Lubos Klikar,, Sport Director, Czech Republic Golf Federation and Morten Backhausen, Director, Danish Golf Federation, provided plenty of valuable insights into initiatives such as the short courses in France, trends in ‘pay-and-play’ and opportunities to attract more juniors into the game.
Golf Europe – a group of European golf stakeholders collaborating to grow golf and enhance the sport’s contribution to European society – concluded the conference by outlining its plans and objectives for the future and to introduce GoGolf, an Erasmus+ funded initiative designed to engage young people in golf at a pan-European level and enhance the evidence base of the health benefits of golf. The panel featured Richard Heath, General Secretary of the EGA, Steve Isaac, Director – Golf Course Management, The R&A, Mike Round, Director of Development and Membership, Ladies European Tour, Ian Randell, Chief Executive, PGAs of Europe, and Fredrik Lindgren, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, European Tour.
George O’Grady said: “I would like to thank all the Presidents of Federations and other stakeholders for their time and making the effort inn coming here to Wentworth for what I am sure all will agree was a very useful and enjoyable experience. The timing of this conference heralds golf’s return to the Olympics, a once in a lifetime opportunity for our game and today highlighted many ways we can work together to collectively drive golf forward.”