Want to live longer and be healthier? Golf is the answer

New GUI and ILGU campaign called ’Golf and Health Week’ is due to start on April 15th

Pádraig Harrington and Annika Sorenstam are endorsing the new ‘Golf and Health Week’. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Pádraig Harrington and Annika Sorenstam are endorsing the new ‘Golf and Health Week’. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

 

In truth, there’s no right or wrong time to dust off the cobwebs and start playing golf again. There’s no starter’s pistol, no siren to signal that the time has come. For many, St Patrick’s weekend is seen as a good time to get swinging again; for others, the US Masters is the tournament that very often spikes interest and gets golfers back onto the fairways.

So, perhaps, some significance can be taken from the timing of a new initiative from the R&A – fully supported by the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union – which actually swings into place on April 15th, a day after the green jacket will be placed upon the shoulders of the newest Masters champion at Augusta National.

The dedicated campaign will be called “Golf and Health Week” and runs from April 15th-19th, with none other that Pádraig Harrington among some legendary names that also include Annika Sorenstam to put their weight behind the project.

The aim might seem a simple one: to encourage golfers, non-golfers and lapsed golfers into taking part in sport; but, behind it all, is the very important medically-based criteria that golf is actually good for the body and mind. Medical research, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, established that golfers live on average five years longer than non-golfers.

The “Golf Health Week” is aimed to highlight the advantages of playing the sport, with physical – aerobic, muscle strengthening, cardiovascular – along with mental benefits, with wellness and self-esteem values among those recognised in research.

Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A, said of the upcoming campaign: “It is important that we continue to promote golf as an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities and demonstrate that playing golf can provide significant benefits for the health and wellbeing of those who participate in sport.”

He added: “We are working closely with our affiliated national associations and partners to produce an engaging and inspiring campaign which will drive interest in playing the sport and encourage people to take advantage of the health benefits that golf can bring.”

That golf can be played across the generations is, for sure, one of its prime attractions and, also, the health benefits of playing into a ripe old age have been showcased by those players who manage to shoot (or better) their age. The best example came with the legendary Sam Snead who – aged 67 – shot back-to-back rounds of 67 and 66 when competing on the PGA Tour’s Quad Cities tournament back in 1979.

More recently, one of our own, Eamonn Darcy came close to finishing his great career in style. In the very last round of his professional career, the Wicklow man came within one shot of shooting his age in the Benidorm Senior Masters on the European Seniors Tour last December. The 66-year-old shot a 67 to close out his career.

Those at the elite can aspire to such feats, but the main point is that golf – with its physical and mental benefits – is, by virtue of the handicap system and the different tees, ideally positioned to showcase itself as a sport for all ages.

The upcoming campaign will include a number of health-related themes through the week, including fitness, mental health, disability golf and a focus at golf clubs on food, drink and exercise.

All of which sound like good reasons to shake the cobwebs off the golf clubs and to start swinging again.

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