PGA aims for new recruits in inner cities

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The Independent Online
The impact Tiger Woods has had on golf in only six months as a professional could lead to an opening up of the game in this country. Sandy Jones, the executive director of the Professional Golfers' Association, has just returned from a trip to America where he was struck by the changes Woods is already bringing about at grass roots level.

"There is a whole new audience for golf," Jones said. "He is putting clubs in the hands of youngsters who have never seen one before.

"I think we are definitely going to get a spin-off from it. All the major inner cities become possibilities for us and we are thinking of trying a pilot programme in Birmingham with minority groups."

Market research carried out for the PGA identified the snobbishness of some clubs as one of the reasons why there has been a sharp decline in the number of players taking up the game.

The other reasons are how expensive it is, how time consuming and how technically difficult. "The industry is not buoyant at the moment and we are trying to change that and make the business grow again," Jones said.

A National Golf Week is being held in April to promote the sport and the PGA has a host of other plans. They are helped by a 50 per cent cut of the pounds 3-4m profit generated by the Ryder Cup, with September's match in Valderrama already a sell out.

"The trick from the US Masters in April through to the match will be to find a ticket," Jones said. "The move to Spain has brought about the biggest international audience we have ever had at a match. For those at The Belfry there were always tickets available."

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