The R&A - Working for Golf

Health Focus Drives German Golf

After a summer of success on the fairways, Germany is motivating more golfers and non-golfers to enjoy the sport by highlighting its many health benefits.

With Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer blazing a trail for German golf down the years, two female players lifted notable silverware last summer to further inspire the next generation of golfers. In back-to-back weeks in August, Sophia Popov became the country’s first woman to become a major winner after her triumph at Royal Troon in the AIG Women’s Open, before Aline Krauter lifted the Women’s Amateur Championship title at West Lancashire.

In a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the German Golf Association (DGV) continues to work hard to support its 730 golf clubs, inspire non-golfers to start playing and encourage its 642,000 registered and 1.2 million non-registered golfers to play more.

“Health is a key factor here”, says Markus Lawatsch, marketing director at DGV, responsible for the DGV-Project ‘Golf & Health’. Building on the activities of The R&A and its partners in this sphere to highlight the physical and mental health benefits of golf, Lawatsch and his team have planned and implemented a number of sub-projects in recent years. On average, they are investing around 100,000 euros each year on promoting golf and health.

What are the DGV’s goals through health? 

Put simply… recruiting and retaining golfers. To achieve this, the DGV researched the needs and knowledge of golfers and non-golfers across Germany using the scientific evidence available – such as from the 2018 International Consensus Statement on Golf and Health and the work of the Golf & Health Project, involving Dr Andrew Murray.

“We made particular use of the studies from Dr Murray and translated them into German but we also did our own studies in order to be able to develop and communicate efficient projects and information about golf,” explains Markus.

What did their research highlight? 

Three key steps to recruit golfers, outlines Markus…

  1. “In order to win golfers, we firstly try to get non-golfers to have a short, non-binding and inexpensive golf lesson, especially to solve our biggest problem in recruiting members – the great fear of non-golfers to visit a golf course. Many of our market research studies showed that over 50% of non-golfers want to try golf and see the completion of a lesson as an essential requirement for starting golf – but only 11% of all non-golfers feel welcome on a course.”

      

  2. Educate non-golfers about the health benefits of golf after a short golf lesson, together with other important offers for non-golfers. “One of our studies has shown that just 29% of all non-golfers consider golf to be beneficial to health, while 91% of all golfers consider golf to be beneficial to health.”

     

  3. Offer memberships at the right time, at the earliest opportunity when golf involvement exists e.g. during the end of several weeks of lessons.

And one step to retain golfers…

  1. Try to get more golfers to play more often. “On the one hand, we inform golfers that golf is even more beneficial for health than they already think. And, on the other hand, we develop, for example, very specific golf projects that help golfers play golf better for health reasons, such as golf-specific fitness exercises or nutrition programmes before, during and after their round of golf.”

How have the DGV communicated their health activity?

  • Toolkit. A ‘toolbox’ was produced for golf courses to encourage local non-golfers to the sport for health reasons. The toolbox includes posters, advertisements, flyers, online banners, videos and explanations of how to use the tools. “The special thing about the toolbox is that there are four versions, as we have worked out four different target groups in golf and health so that each club can use a toolbox tailored to its marketing position,” said Markus. “The target groups come from our research, divided into categories in terms of demographics or sociographic.”
  • Communication. Promotional materials (such as a printed poster with key facts e.g. research has highlighted golfers live five years longer) were sent to all courses so they could inform all golfers across Germany of the benefits of golf and health, along with guidelines on how courses can effectively organise a tournament with health messaging for golfers and an open health day for non-golfers. 
  • Media. The DGV designed a special supplement and 160,000 copies were added to a large German daily newspaper to inform 700,000 non-golfers on golf and health.  
  • Website. A golf and health website was designed (www.golfglück.de) to motivate non-golfers to start golfing. The significance about the website is not only the integrated health messages; each club also has its own access to this website in order to integrate offers such as a golf lesson for non-golfers. 
  • Social media. A nationwide online campaign, with a large part across social media, ran for two months with a focus on the health benefits that golf offers non-golfers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign delivered 391,194 clicks on the golf and health website. “We were also highly involved in organising a golf camp with 20 influencers (10 golfers and 10 non-golfers) for a week, in which golf and health was also a topic and reached 1.8 million followers,” said Markus. “It worked really well.”   
  • Exercises. Over 20 golf and fitness exercises were filmed and released. The exercises are golf-specific, can be done at home and assist, in particular, with strength and stability, as well as helping to eliminate common swing errors. This has proven particularly useful for golfers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DGV also attracted ambassadors for its respective target groups to support its work. For non-golfers, for example, this is a well-known TV presenter in Germany and, for golfers, pro golfer Max Kieffer has helped make the project a success.

“Furthermore, the German Olympic Sports Confederation also support the project,” said Markus. “Everything we are doing is free for our clubs, showing what golf can do for the health of golfers and non-golfers.”

Further health projects are planned such as a prevention guide so clubs can offer prevention courses, financially supported by health insurance companies.

What has the impact been?

For Markus, the impact to date has been strong – and their work continues. 

“We have had success,” he concludes. “We track our campaigns and conduct market research studies independently of our golf courses. The golf and health study and our market segmentation study are examples of this. We also ask our golf courses how satisfied they are with the toolkit, in order to continuously optimise it.”

“Step by step, we are trying to make golf even healthier for golfers and trying to change perceptions of non-golfers about golf and health,” added Jörg Schlockermann, a member of the board at DGV. “We are convinced that so far we have laid a very good foundation and now we are going to special target groups (e.g. focusing on mental health, such as stress) to continue our communications.”

>> View more information on health via The R&A Golf and Health Report (2016-20)