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Golf in Portugal and its democratization

Democratizing the sport and attracting new participants has been the mission of the Portuguese Golf Federation. João Pedro Oliveira, Marketing Director of the Federation, tells us a little more about the path traveled so far. From the National Initiation Program called “9 weeks and 1/2” to plans for the future, nothing is left to chance.

To begin with, and for those who still don’t know, what does the “9 and 1/2 weeks” Program consist of?

The 9 Weeks & ½ Program is the first national golf initiation program designed by the Portuguese Golf Federation (FPG) which, in collaboration with Clubs and Academies throughout the country, allows rapid discovery of this modality through a method Very simple and relaxed teaching. for an affordable price.

This program started in September 2021 and today has 18 participating clubs in mainland Portugal and the island of Madeira, which guarantees effective national coverage, making it easy to join.

This program is aimed exclusively at those who have never been registered/federated in the Portuguese Golf Federation. This condition is essential so that the respective students can benefit from all the advantages that the FPG has created for the program, specifically the possibility of benefiting from the first free sports license.

What motivated its beginning?

The awareness that the modality needed a solution that would allow it to leverage its growth in a sustained manner, providing clubs and national academies with tools to attract new practitioners.

We knew that a simple advertising campaign would only have a short-lived impact. It was necessary to go further and find a structural solution in the medium and long term.

For the first time, we have developed a teaching program under the umbrella of a brand: 9 and a half weeks, with a unique methodology and a unique and very competitive price: €190 for a total of 19 lessons. This allowed us to communicate the same at a national level, something unprecedented and that turned out to be a winning bet.

We also realized that the pandemic – and in particular the lockdowns that have punished so many sports – opened up an excellent opportunity to challenge the general public to discover a sport that takes place in full communion with nature. The Portuguese were eager for physical activities in the open air, without limitations for their health. Golf was the perfect answer to this and from a young age we felt that the general population was getting closer to golf courses. The international trend confirmed what we were seeing in our fields and clubs. So we needed to create a compelling product that responded to this opportunity, which resulted in the creation of this program.

This program started in 2021 and, since then, it has around 18 participating clubs in mainland Portugal and the island of Madeira. What balance can we make so far? How would you rate the evolution in the last year and a half?

The 9 and a half week program has proven to be a great success in this short period. Today we already have effective national coverage, which is due in large part to the adherence, involvement and enthusiasm of our participating clubs. This project is strategic for the development of the modality and would not be possible without a close collaboration with them.

A paradigmatic example of this success is the fact that the program now has a conversion rate of students into members of the clubs where they trained 65%!

It is important to say that the the conversion rate in federated players is identical, which means an effective retention in the sport of these new players. These are very positive indicators from the point of view of the modality’s sustainability and make us believe that we are on the right track.

But the success of the program cannot and should not be assessed solely on the basis of statistical data. There are many more Portuguese playing golf than most of us imagine.

What is the democratization of the modality about, do you feel that there is still a long way to go?

The democratization of sport in Portugal is already a reality. A very pragmatic example of this fact is that Golf is among the 10 sports with the most federated practitioners in our country. The subject has to do with the mistaken perception that Golf still has today in our country.

Nowadays, the practice of Golf can have a cost similar to the monthly fee of a gym and less than many other so-called “democratic” modalities. We have countless examples of rates for national golf courses/clubs in the range of €40 to €50/month.

Of course, there are courses that are prohibitively expensive for most Portuguese, but there are very competitive alternatives. Just as we choose a restaurant, a car or buy a certain piece of equipment, there are countless alternatives on the market at very different prices. The reality of national golf is no different.

In recent years we have taken decisive steps to change this perception, but we still have a long way to go.

As for the future, what are the prospects, wishes? What objectives remain to be achieved?

Grow. Develop modality. Introduce the Portuguese to a sport that can transform their lives for the better.

Involving more women can be decisive for the growth of the sport due to the social role they play. Golf allows you to spend quality time with family and friends in the middle of nature. It is truly a sport that brings children and adults together on the field. From 8 to 88 years or more.

From a health point of view, particularly mental and physical health, it is recommended by numerous medical specialists. Regular golf practice has been shown to help prevent the risks of depression, anxiety and dementia.

In Sweden, a well-known study revealed that a golfer lives on average 5 years longer than a non-golfer. Isn’t this a relevant value proposition?

Surely the most difficult obstacle to overcome will be the perception of Golf in our society. We are well aware that changing an idea or a concept in the mind of a human being is and will always be a great challenge. Naturally, among the Portuguese it will not be an exception. This is our daily challenge and commitment.

Source: Observadora

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