Research project supports golf’s fantastic volunteers

Identifying support for golf volunteers

Hundreds of club members volunteer to support England Golf (image copyright Leaderboard Photography)

Hundreds of club members volunteer to support England Golf (image copyright Leaderboard Photography)

A research project is underway to understand golf volunteers and identify the support they need to have a great experience in their role.

England Golf and Manchester Metropolitan University are working together to find out what motivates volunteers and what training and education they need. The result could be even more volunteers, reflecting a diverse population. 

“We are very lucky to have so many fantastic volunteers,” said Matt Bloor, England Golf Volunteer Manager.

“By understanding and supporting them better we will be able to recruit more new volunteers and help to grow the game even further.”

There are around 50,000 volunteers in England who carry out roles in their clubs, such as chair, captain, junior organiser and chair of the green committee. Their number almost trebles when golf’s wider volunteering community is included. 

Research findings

Manchester Metropolitan researchers, led by Dr Chris Mackintosh, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management, have been working with 70 clubs to understand volunteers and their needs. The project is also being supported by PhD researcher Chris Mills, who will explore and test ideas over the next three years, and by a comprehensive golf club volunteer survey carried out by England Golf. 

The project has found that volunteers are motivated by a range of reasons, such as the wish to give back, a love of the game, a desire to make friends or support family members, and to share the benefits of the game, including better mental health and well-being. 

It has also discovered that support and training opportunities vary widely across the country, with volunteers themselves expressing interest in peer learning, e-learning and blended learning. 

Dr Mackintosh commented: “If we get the support right, from the understanding we have gained through this research, England Golf can move forward and open up further opportunities for more people to volunteer. 

“With 650,000 existing members and 50,000 core volunteers, we hope to see a broadening of the diversity of this workforce. We can also see, going forward, that this will strengthen the game, making it more appealing and, hopefully, have an effect on the retention and recruitment of more people to the game.” 

Making an impact

PhD researcher Chris Mills – who is learning to play golf – began his study in January. He is building on a strong background in the volunteer sector and already has an MSc in Voluntary and Community Sector Studies.

Meanwhile, Matt Bloor is using the findings so far, from both the Manchester Metropolitan research and the England Golf volunteer survey, to run pilot schemes to recruit new volunteers with three clubs and a county union. 

England Golf also encourages volunteers to connect and share experiences and is supporting a new Chair Network. This provides information, peer support and a forum for the exchange of ideas to help with the successful running of golf clubs. Visit for more information.

Richard Flint, England Golf Participation and Club Support Director, said: “England Golf is committed to making golf attractive to a diverse audience and we are using research and insight to help us do this. 

“Golf is a game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds and possibly has the widest variety of volunteer roles in sport.  We recognise that volunteering can be a great avenue to bring new people into the game.”

Watch the Understanding Volunteers video to find out more about the England Golf and Manchester Metropolitan research project.

Support and information for volunteers, clubs and counties can be found at

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