INCREASE THE NUMBER OF PLAYERS
Although golf is the most popular individual sport in the world (65 million players, source R&A, Golf as an Olympic Discipline in 2009), the number of players in France is still fairly small (400 000 registered golfers / 2 000 000 people declaring to “play golf” Sportlab study 2011).
Our golfing population is under the European average: golfers represent 0.61% of the French population, i.e. 25% less than the European average (0.82%). As a comparison, in England, 1.9% of the population play golf, 5.8% in Sweden, 4.9% in Scotland and 9.5% in the USA.
To reverse this trend, the ffgolf is rallying at all levels to get the sport better known and liked: nation-wide golf initiation operation (« Tous au Golf » « Everybody get golfing »), initiation in schools via golf modules, development of golf schools for the youngest players, and a plan for the creation of 100 Urban short courses, easier to access and faster to play.
One hundred urban short courses for an exceptional heritage
To attract a new public and increase the number of registered players, the ffgolf is getting together to build and promote a plan for 100 urban short courses. This ambitious and crucial plan to develop our sport was at the core of the French bid to host the Ryder Cup due to the huge impact this event could have on the popularity of golf. The « Centre National de Développement du Sport », a division of the Sports Ministry, will make a sizeable contribution (up to 20%) to this public project for short golf courses.
As a part of a broader plan with the goal of reaching 70 000 registered players by 2018, the Ryder Cup could be a tremendous accelerator for golf in France.
Hosting great events or heavy media coverage of international events boosts the practice of a sport. The Ryder Cup, thanks to the great many side events that will be created and take place, should be no exception to this rule.
For example, the following sporting events had significant impact:
• Over the last 10 years, the French Football Federation has seen an increase in the number of registered players mainly after each World Cup: +5% in 1998, and +8% in 2006
• After the Rugby World Cup in 2007, the French Rugby Federation recorded an unprecedented increase in its registered players: +30% in one year!
• Fencing wins the most medals at the Olympic Games. The impact of good results on registrations has been proved after each Olympic Games: +33% registrations in one year following the 2004 games in Athens
But for this, the ffgolf must turn intentions into actions. By bidding and winning the hosting of the Ryder Cup, France has already made ground especially in its relationship with the public authorities. Now to maximize the benefit, the federation must continue its efforts and make the most of this favourable context to create the optimal conditions to welcome new golfers.
BOOSTING TOP LEVEL SPORT
For several years, the ffgolf has invested considerable means to detect young champions able to rival with the best players in the world. As a start and with the help of its clubs, the federation has developed golf schools in which increasingly better trained Pros provide top quality instruction. It also proposes a clear, well-balanced, coherent organization of federal competitions, allowing the participation of the greatest number of clubs, and therefore players, and by doing so encourages the sporting dynamics.
To meet its objective of placing players in the World Top 50, the ffgolf is not to content to simply facilitate the access of young people to clubs and create game competition conditions. Thanks to regional technical teams and its national trainers, the ffgolf monitors and detects the best talents. These players are offered the possibility of integrating top level structures that can lead to becoming a professional golfer. Here it’s about the « Hopefuls » divisions or the « France » division, the benefits of such structures have already been proved in other disciplines.
Five “Hopefuls” divisions have been opened since the autumn of 2002. The first was inaugurated in Montpellier in September 2002. Two more saw the light of day a year later in Dinard and Toulouse. In 2005, the Paris region launched a division at Châtenay-Malabry and 2006 a structure was created in Antibes.
And the ffgolf didn’t stop there. In 2004, it set up a Men’s France division in Montpellier (transferred to the Golf de Terre Blanche in the Var in 2010), a Women’s France Division in Toulouse in 2007 and very recently a Junior France Division in Antibes. Amateur athletes in these structures benefit from top level instruction where all the factors linked to performance are studied (technical, physical, mental, medical…)
And all the results obtained these last three years such as the victory of the French team at the last World Amateur championships (2010) and the European championship 2011, the European championship titles of Victor Dubuisson (2009) and Benjamin Hébert (2007) or even the win of Julien Guerrier of the British Amateur (2006) show that the French Federation of Golf is on the right track.
For the professionals, the support of the ffgolf is essential: coaching, tournament invitations, circuit springboard, French Open …
With the Ryder Cup, the ffgolf has found a tremendous catalyst. It sends out a strong signal and gives an enormous boost to all “elite” players involved in competition golf. It now remains to continue and accentuate efforts at the top level to place French players in the 2018 European team.
To date, two French players, Thomas Levet and Jean Van de Velde have integrated the European team (in 1999 for Van de Velde and in 2004 for Levet).
PROMOTING FRANCE AS A GOLFING DESTINATION
With 700 golf courses of which 22 are ranked in the 1000 best courses in the world, hosting the Ryder Cup offers the occasion to increase the economic weight of French golf, to improve the profitability of all stakeholders and set up a policy for the development of golf tourism.
Golf, primary tourism factor
Golf is the leading sport in the world tourism industry representing 19 billion dollars in 2003. This source of income bypasses France. In fact, the country holds a small place in golf tourism with only 392 million euros excluding VAT in estimated revenue (Source Etude BIPE 2007).
As the first tourist destination in the world, France must make its mark in the golfing tourism market. Whether it is for an event such as the Ryder Cup or for a summer leisure activity, golf is among the top motivations when choosing a place for tourism. By hosting the Ryder Cup, France sends out a strong signal, especially to Asia and the United States, on the quality of French golf courses.
With 12 billion dollars spent in 2003, of which 1.1 abroad, the Americans are the world’s leading golfing tourists. Today, France is not part of the top 15 last or next destinations of American golfers. Hosting the Ryder Cup on our soil is a major challenge.
The French golf industry represents a revenue of 1.5 billion euros and 13000 jobs (source Etude BIPE 2007).
PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
In strict line with its implication in respect for the environment (2006 charter signed with the Ministry of Ecology, 2007 agreement with the Natural History Museum, 2010 new golf and environment charter with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing) it was totally natural that the ffgolf should structure its Ryder Cup bid within a logic of sustainable development. As such, it has set very important environmental objectives (95% of waste treated, food provided essentially from the region, environmentally-friendly public transport) with a very precise goal : to create a golfing event organization model that respects the environment which can be duplicated in France in the future, and be a reference for sustainable development in the domain of great events.
On April 7th 2010, for this approach, the ffgolf Ryder Cup Commission obtained the Agenda 21 label of the Comité National Olympique et Sportif Français attesting the exemplary nature of the French bid concerning respect for the environment