Hello, my name is Ryan and I am a Sports PR and Journalism student at Staffordshire University, currently completing work placement with Medi8. I have a great interest in both tennis and golf which has stemmed from years of watching and playing both sports. After spending time with the team here at Medi8, I have had a behind the scenes view of the golfing industry and frankly, it has got me thinking. Can golf learn anything from tennis in order to make the sport more accessible for beginners?

Tennis and golf, two sports using hand-eye coordination, to essentially, hit a ball. Both sports are incredibly successful in their own right but I believe that golf could learn a lot from a sport that brings us Wimbledon and everybody’s favourite Scotsman, Andy Murray.

As a fully qualified tennis coach currently working in the industry, I have seen the progress that the sport has made first hand. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is consistently creating campaigns with the sole purpose of getting more people to play tennis.

Since 2013, the LTA has been running a scheme called the Great British Tennis Weekend (GBTW). Available to all tennis clubs around the country, the GBTW is fundamentally a nationwide Open Day driving more people to play tennis by offering them free opportunities to play. The campaign has been a great success with thousands of tennis clubs up and down the country running the event enticing hundreds of thousands in to playing tennis.

In my opinion, golf could learn greatly from a basic scheme like this one. To me, the game of golf seems stuck in the past, rooted in its traditions which it holds so proudly. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sport and it’s something that I would play more often if weather and, more importantly, time allowed.

That brings me on to my next point, time. Tennis has adapted brilliantly, realising that a lot of people want to be able to play a competitive match without having to give up a large chunk of their day. This is why the LTA has introduced a new format called Fast4 Tennis, which gives those with a busy lifestyle the ability to fit competitive tennis in to their day.

I understand that golf has introduced the ‘Don’t have time – play 9’ scheme and American Golf has its annual 9 Hole Championship, and I suppose this is a starting point for making the game more convenient. But spending at least two hours on the course is still a relatively long time, which will feel a whole lot longer when you come off the course having lost ten balls and taken a triple-bogey on every hole; having a torrid time in the process. We’ve all been there.

Introducing children to the game is an aspect in which tennis particularly excels. Tennis coaching is common practice in schools whereas golf is non-existent at school level. This needs to change if golf wants to introduce more youngsters to the game. Golf’s governing bodies could take inspiration from the LTA’s ‘Tennis for Kids’ initiative, which has piggy backed on the back of Great Britain’s Davis Cup success.

The campaign, which is now in its second year, involves coaches from across the country setting up free six week sessions for ten children who have never picked up a tennis racket. To boost involvement, the LTA have got tennis influencers involved, such as; Leon Smith (Davis Cup captain), Annabelle Croft and Anne Keothavong (Fed Cup captain) who lead the tutorial sessions for the coaches. It doesn’t help that Britain’s golfing talisman, Rory Mcllroy has said that it is not his responsibility to grow the game, which says a lot about the state of the sport. But golf could still learn from this scheme and take advantage of Olympic Gold Medallist, Justin Rose in order to promote golf to children up and down the country.

Golf has started to change its way of thinking which can only benefit the sport in the long run. British tennis has understood that the sport needs to keep developing in order to progress with the times, therefore making it more accessible for beginners to the game. Gradual change in tack and looking at tennis’ blueprint will only be of benefit to the sport at beginners level.