BHF Scotland calls for more people to play golf

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 7, 2023 10:37

The head of British Heart Foundation Scotland is encouraging people to take up golf as it will make them healthier and happier.

Speaking to Scottish Golf ahead of World Health Day, David McColgan said: “We encourage everyone to find an activity they enjoy, which means they’re more likely to stick with it. Golf is great because it gets you out in the fresh air and is a social, low-impact activity.

“Being active has many health benefits. It improves your heart and lung health, your breathing, your bone and muscle strength, and your mental wellbeing. Before starting out in a new sport, especially if you have a medical condition, it’s important to chat with your doctor about what’s right for you, but don’t be afraid to exercise. Keeping active is much better than doing nothing.”

Participation in golf is recognised as increasing physical activity levels and improving physical health. The ‘Golf and Health’ initiative highlights how golf can combat different types of disease from diabetes and heart attacks, to strokes and dementia. It can also improve participants’ strength and balance, whilst increasing Vitamin D levels through exposure to fresh air and sunlight. It’s not just golfers who experience physical benefits; golf is regarded as the only mainstream sport providing fans with physical health benefits, with spectators walking five to six miles on average and burning more than 1,000 calories a day at events. Furthermore, the Swedish Golf Federation has revealed that, on average, golfers live five years longer than non-golfers.

Golf is well-known for benefitting mental wellbeing, for example in boosting levels of self-esteem and self-worth through the social interactions of participants, thus helping to combat social isolation.

With further backing from The R&A as well as the University of St Andrews School of Medicine, Scottish Golf is supporting other partner organisations with the pioneering social prescription project, ‘Golf on Prescription’, which is currently being piloted in Fife.

The project aims to increase participants’ physical activity levels and general wellbeing by inviting primary care professionals and community link workers to prescribe golf for eligible patients.

Participating GP practices in Fife have been linked with four local golf clubs offering a six-to-eight week, free-of-charge programme. Around 30 participants were involved last year with further rollout planned for this spring.

Frank Sullivan, professor of Primary Care Medicine and medical school director of research at the University of St Andrews, said: “This pilot initiative has been carefully designed to offer an accessible and social introduction to golf and to provide long-term health and wellbeing benefits for patients across Fife.

“The R&A has committed funding to the ‘Golf on Prescription’ project to support research at the university and the delivery of pilot golf packages by golf partners. The project has also been supported by founding partner ISPS Handa through their work with the university.”

Kevin Barker, director of Golf Development – The R&A, added: “The R&A is actively promoting the health benefits of golf to encourage more people into the sport. We see social prescription as a great way for golf to contribute to the health of communities and to provide people with opportunities to enjoy playing the sport throughout their lifetime.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 7, 2023 10:37
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1 Comment

  1. BrightGen April 10, 10:55

    I haven’t played for many years, but I recall very few shots where I was happy after making them!

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