R&A Chief wants game to build on 'extraordinary six months'

Martin Slumbers

R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers has called for the game to build on its recent surge in popularity.

Speaking at the recent AIG Women’s Open, Martin highlighted the increased focus on health and mental wellbeing and how golf is perfectly positioned to deliver those benefits to prospective players.

"This could be a real opportunity for the game, if we can grasp it and start showing the game in a positive way.

"I think that there's going to be a huge amount more debate about the need for health and the need for mental wellbeing out of this."

Looking further forward, he struck a more cautious note, acknowledging there was still work to do to ensure golf appealed to a wide audience:

"Our real challenge now is to make it sustainable.

"You have heard me talk about people will join golf clubs when golf clubs are selling the product that people want to buy. We’ve still got to do that, and we’ve still got to keep changing and we’ve still got to keep being modern and relevant.”

And Martin isn't just talking the talk, with The R&A on the verge of agreeing a deal to purchase a golf course of its own.

Letamhill Golf Course, an 18-hole facility just outside Glasgow, is currently operated by Glasgow City Council, but has recently been earmarked for closure.

Should the deal go through, the facility will be developed into a 'community golf centre', as an R&A spokesperson outlines:

“We believe that this is an opportunity to create and establish a popular blueprint for how golf can be offered in many appealing ways to be enjoyed by men, women, young people and families of all ages and backgrounds.

"It reflects our wider strategy to ensure golf is thriving 50 years from now.”

Martin Slumbers added: "If the game can truly think about the product that’s being delivered by golf clubs, there is a market five times the size of existing membership today that is more diverse and it’s younger.

“And that’s our opportunity. And we have to break down the traditional barriers to be able to embrace it."

Is it just the product that needs to change? Or do we, as an industry, need to take a step back and question what we do, who we are and why we’re here?

For more, discover the multimedia feature ‘Rethinking Golf: How to reset golf for the new normal’.