People who were “prescribed” golf as a treatment for health conditions say the pilot scheme has been a success, as the initiative continues to attract attention.
The R&A and the University of St Andrews School of Medicine have collaborated with partner organisations to develop “Golf for Health,” a pilot social prescribing project that aims to connect eligible primary-care patients with appropriate golf activities in Fife.
Researchers in the school have developed a model in partnership with the R&A, Fife Golf Trust, NHS Fife, Scottish Golf, PGA Scotland, the European Tour Group and Ladies’ European Tour to enable primary-care professionals and community-link workers to prescribe golf for eligible patients. Respected medical professional Dr Andrew Murray also has been involved.
The pilot in Fife, which saw participants referred to golf sessions, has completed its first phase and was featured last week on BBC Scotland, across television and radio platforms.
“We can take this pilot and make it sustainable and scalable and take it to other parts, whether that's in Scotland, Great Britain and Ireland or around the world.”
Academics are now analysing the evidence so far, looking at how it might be scaled up in Scotland and elsewhere.
Four local golf clubs took part offering a six- to eight-week free programme. People were able to access it in a variety of ways, including via their GP or other health professionals.
The R&A has been working for some years to raise awareness about the physical, mental and social health benefits of golf.
“From our perspective it was showing that we could create a referral process that works," said Kevin Barker, the R&A’s director of golf development.
Sixty participants have been through the pilot programmes, and work is now underway to analyse why people came, why they stayed involved and what problems there might have been.
“Often health professionals seeing people will think, ‘What can we do apart from medication to let people take their care into their own hands?’” added Frank Sullivan, director of research at the University of St Andrews Medical School.
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