The recent climate surrounding COVID-19 and the subsequent impact it has had on golf – forcing clubs to close and facilities to potentially lose significant amounts of revenue – reopening has been the industry’s number one priority. On the 11th May, France officially did just that, achieved through successful Government lobbying and a concerted, collaborative effort from golfing authorities.
One of these was CPG Member Country PGA, the PGA of France who, alongside the Fédération Française de Golf [FFG] and others, utilised sound reasoning and the appropriate channels of communication to do so and as a result, successfully helped breath life back into the game, golf businesses and French PGA Professional’s livelihoods, at a time when it so desperately needed it.
The Confederation of Professional Golf [CPG] spoke to Vice President of the PGA of France, Nathalie Jeanson, about the associations efforts and briefly build a picture of just how they managed to do it.
“Well the key really was that the whole golf industry got behind it.
The PGA of France, the FFG, golf course owners [both private and public], golf course managers associations and free keeper associations all took a collective stance to collaborate with one another closely in setting the goal of reintroducing golf safely, and achieving it.
We were quite fortunate to have the President of both the CPG and FFG, Pascal Grizot [pictured above], working tirelessly on this with us. During his work with the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris he had established various connections and appropriate contacts from government, from who we could work with closely and more effectively to send the right message and achieve our ambition.
After we had opened up key conversations with the appropriate people, there were three key takeaways during the ongoing consultation process that we had:
- Unlike other similar solo-sports such as tennis and cycling, golf doesn’t quite have the popularity and pulling power as a ‘key sport’ in the country just yet, although this has started to change significantly in recent years. Therefore, aligning golf with other associated sports [that can be played outside and on an individual, safe basis] would generate traction towards having national backing. This changed the name behind the lobbying efforts from ‘golf’, to ‘sport’, which created a far more powerful message.
- The economic value of golf to France is significant…often more significant than other sectors. Delivering numerical figures, facts and details of how important golf actually is to the French economy, whilst tying in that it is possible to be reopened with social distancing, was the key message.
- The French Government announced the reopening of schools before golf but with reduced class sizes. This meant a large proportion of workers still had the issue of child care. During discussions with government, it was proposed that golf could come in and share this burden for families by hosting kids at golf clubs and courses. This would help both the workers with their child care concerns and golf clubs by helping them to introduce golf to a larger proportion of children!”
However, this is just one example of a success story between a CPG Member Country PGA and local / national governments in reintroducing golf. Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and others have all been heavily involved in discussions between their respective PGAs and local governments on how golf can be played safely, guided by the collective joint statement from the 32 CPG Member Country PGAs and the COVID-19 guidelines that were recently issued. By engaging in this collective effort, PGAs, PGA Professionals, Golfers and Golf itself, have been given some good news at a time when it is much needed. Long may it continue.