This year, golf will be ‘a sport in the spotlight’, being strongly promoted and receiving extra support from the Flemish government. The Golf Federation of Flanders with the Department of Sport will organise different events to get people of different ages, gender and cultures to try the game of golf. These will include:
- an ‘Open Day’ in April and golf in parks in the city in June, with more than 6,000 people expected to participate
- 100,000 children will be invited to try golf in their schools, introduced to the game by 500 teachers who will have received tuition and educational materials
- more than 20,000 children will hit their first golf ball in one of the 45 ‘golf on the road’ events
- golf clubs will offer special ‘start to golf-lessons’ packages for youths in September
- the first world school championships for golf will be hosted in November.
More information on all of the ‘Sport of the Year’ events can be found at www.sportvanhetjaar.be
Flanders has 34,000 golfers and the aim is to increase this number to 50,000 by 2020. The success of Nicolas Colsaerts has brought the game into the media spotlight.
For many years, golf in Flanders was perceived in a very negative light by the Government and existing courses in environmentally sensitive areas were under threat. Thanks to a great deal of work by the Flemish Golf Federation, the game is now seen more positively and, for the first time in 10 years, new courses are getting permits to be built. The Flemish Minister of Sports, Philippe Muyters, is also their Minister of Environmental Planning and supports controlled golf development. Flanders has 54 golf clubs which offer a great diversity of courses with some over 100 years old, golf at the coast, golf near historical cities and in the Great War battle grounds known as Flanders Fields, and golf in the Capital of Europe.
Marc Verneirt, Secretary General VVG (Golf Federation Flanders) commented, “I am delighted by the accolade given to golf by the Minister of Sports, but there remains much to do to make golf accepted by the majority of Flanders citizens. We hope that being nominated ‘Sport of the Year’ will give golf the profile to ensure it is appreciated as a positive contributor to society by future generations.”