Much of our work at the moment is dedicated to growing the game of golf, but if I’m being honest (and I’ll say it quietly), the sport has never grabbed me in the way that many others have and I’m not really sure why.

I enjoy the game. I like the challenge. I love smashing the ball as hard as I can – though it’s often a very poor tactic – and when I find friends to play with I enjoy it as much as any other game. But I’ve never been a club member and I think that’s where the difference lies.

This thought came to me as I lined up among a sea of green for a pre-race photo at Sunday’s Potters Arf Marathon. I got to thinking about what had engaged me in running that golf had never managed? I took my place (at the back as any tall person knows is theirs) of the organised photo with 40 or 50 green vested Trentham R.C. ‘athletes’ ready to take on the challenge. From half marathon plodders to the racing snakes going for the podium, we shared a spirit, an identity and a friendship. We were club mates and while we were about to embark on a decidedly solo sport, the encouragement and camaraderie was clear.

Potters 'Arf Marathon

Club life is something more than friendship. It’s a collective understanding of the thing you enjoy. It’s a shared love of something that makes little sense to an outsider and it’s sometimes, at the points when your enthusiasm wains, the thing that keeps you coming back for more.

I’ve been a member of sports clubs all my life, I know how they work and I enjoy them. Golf club membership should have got me by now but I’m now in my 40’s and I’m not sure it ever will. There’s lots of surface reasons: It’s an expensive thing to take a chance on, it seems overburdened with rules and outdated etiquette and to join a club on your own, where the game requires playing partners, is a daunting step, but I know that some clubs are addressing these issues and I’m aware of some fantastic work by England Golf to remove barriers to participation, particularly in my home county of Staffordshire.

I guess it would take a club to get me through the door and show off what they can offer. An engaged member, like those I came across when I first walked into Trentham Running Club, to take me on and show me a little of what club life could be. If a club could manage that then I’m sure I would be tempted. I haven’t got all the answers by any means, but I am certain that I’m not the only potential golf club member hanging around the back of other sports’ club photos.

David Wheatley
David Wheatley Director






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