BBC’s Michael Barratt launches campaign to save golf from its ‘crisis’

Emma Williams
By Emma Williams August 4, 2014 10:47

The BBC television presenter Michael Barratt has launched a campaign to save golf from what he describes as a ‘crisis’ that it has found itself in.


Michael Barratt in the 1980s

The game in the UK has been hit by falling participation for the last decade, which led to England Golf last month unveiling a strategic plan to stop and ultimately reverse the decline.

Barratt, who has presented Panorama and Songs of Praise, although is perhaps best remembered as the host of Nationwide, is a keen golfer and has even written a book on the sport.

He launched REAL Golf last year with four friends, one of whom, Nick Park, has since died.

The campaign aims to make golf more fun and less time consuming.

“REAL stands for Recreational, Enjoyable, Affordable and Less time-consuming golf,” he told the FineGolf newsletter.

“Our wonderful game has lost its way with the consequence that, all over the world, clubs are closing down and the game is failing to attract young people and women especially, who should be the lifeblood of its future. Tournaments and professionals have over the years unwittingly contributed to today’s crisis.”

Barratt stated that the reason why golf has found itself in this crisis is because technology has been developed to enable professional golfers to hit the ball further, which in turn has led to courses being extended, which in turn has made the game more difficult and take longer to play.

The four-hour round is now the norm on many courses, sometimes five hours and even longer, and that has been a bar to so many who cannot afford the time to play because of family or workplace commitments in the modern era,” he said.

“Many in the professional game support our view that the game must change – great players like Jack Nicklaus say golf has become too difficult, too expensive and takes too long.

“Amateur golfers are being lost to the game because of a whole raft of issues like escalating costs, complexity of rules and handicap systems, restrictive dress codes, decline of basic etiquette on the course and much else besides.”

Barratt added that REAL Golf is not a commercial enterprise and all costs have been borne by its founding members.

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Emma Williams
By Emma Williams August 4, 2014 10:47
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