Why Golf Is Proving A Hit In Sussex Schools


Mark Duncan, Head of Sport at Windlesham House School in West Sussex, on why golf is gaining traction in school

Golf is becoming more and more popular in schools today. Far from being just another ‘tick box’ co-curricular activity, the sport is gaining greater traction and recognition within PE departments and is attracting pupils from a much younger age too. Many schools including prep schools are building partnerships with local clubs, and some are even making the most of their expansive grounds by launching their own academies and investing in onsite golf courses. Being a low-injury activity, golf has traditionally been referred to as a sport of leisure, but there are many physical and mental benefits to children playing from a young age. 

Even though golf has been historically more popular with adults and is perhaps not quite as widespread as football or rugby in independent school sports, those schools that have decided to invest in golf are seeing excellent learning and development benefits, as a result.  With our younger society often driven by the prevalence of screens and devices, golf is an excellent outdoor activity that not only sharpens the mind, with a long list of health benefits, it helps to get children active and out into nature.

Strength and balance are just two of the core physical skills that regular exposure to sports like golf can nurture, but another key area is hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.  Experts often describe golf as the most technically difficult ball sport with extremely high demand for coordination and concentration; as such, the value of nurturing children to focus and to hit the ball naturally from an early age while carefree, fearless and of course lower to the ground, is immeasurable. On top of this, the endurance garnered by numerous swings and many miles on the feet is also an important test of resilience.

Windlesham Golf
Golf at Windlesham House

Mindfulness in a nutshell

As well as having numerous physical benefits, golf also supports children’s mental health and wellbeing. The simple act of walking around a golf course amongst the trees and open greenery has proven benefits and is a great way of combining both sport and nature in the great outdoors. The fact that golf can be played as a group or enjoyed as a solitary experience is also what makes it quite special and different to other sports. Likewise, golf can be a very competitive experience and, on the flipside, a totally relaxing one so it allows players to tailor the experience to their own personal needs at that time. 

The tactics of the game itself also help to promote patience, calmness, concentration, determination and above all resilience. The overriding essence of the game is about letting go of what has just happened, ignoring what might happen and focusing on the here and now – mindfulness in a nutshell, some might say.

Golf is also becoming more popular with younger children; in part because it is far more accessible than it used to be. Golf courses used to be far more exclusive, and the game was traditionally seen as the preserve of a fatter wallet and a more mature mind. These past stigmas and barriers are being broken down today, encouraging more of a ‘give it a go’ approach and making the sport more welcoming to more people.  

Mark Duncan
Mark Duncan, Head of Sport at Windlesham House

A game of confidence

As a sport in school, golf is also having a positive impact on self-confidence. Being a game where you can measure your progress and improve over time by playing the same course over and again is perhaps part of that. On the same token, anyone can compete against any other player utilising the handicap system, which makes for some unique competitive experiences where a nominally ‘lesser’ player can experience victory over someone who is technically superior or more experienced. Being a ‘non-contact’ sport, which can be practised solo, anytime, anywhere (even by putting a ball into a cup in the kitchen) can also make it an appealing sporting option that can suit children who may not love the hurly burly and physical aspects of some more traditional team sports.

At our school we have certainly noticed a surge in children playing golf over the last five years and with the school increasingly able to supply children with equipment and the first tee right on the school front doorstep, this is only likely to increase over time. Like other independent schools that have invested in the sport, our nine-hole course provides enough of a challenge for experienced golfers, while remaining accessible to those just starting out. All of our pupils will develop their own levels of success, which should keep them coming back for more – so long as they aren’t put off by the elusive second and ninth greens that is…


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