South African amateur golfers’ barriers in competitive games
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Golf has increasingly become more popular on an international and national level (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews − R&A, 2016). Merely mentioning names such as Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy, Brandon Grace and Louis Oosthuizen, suggests how prevalent this sport has become. Marketing of golf tourism and golf sporting events such as the Nedbank Golf Challenge is drawing an exclusive class of athletes and spectators globally (Hudson, 2009; Nedbank Golf Challenge, 2016). Some of the most recent figures suggest that during 2015, approximately 26 million people in the USA were playing golf (Statista, 2016). In South Africa the numbers stand at 119800 golf players affiliated to the 466 golf courses. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of these players are located in the province of Gauteng alone (South African Golf Association, 2016). As one of the most lucrative types of sport for an athlete, numerous players set out each year to become professional golfers around the globe and in South Africa. The increased popularity of this sporting event, together with its multifaceted aspects, motivated the present research study. This study"s focus is on amateur South African golfers with regard to their optimal performance. Cultivating an awareness of how to assist the transition of amateur golfers to professional golfers in South Africa is important; particularly in that as a developing country it has limited resources. An amateur golfer engages in the sport activity for the challenge it provides and some of them play with the intention of transitioning to become a professional golfer (Carroll, 2009; R&A, 2016; Santos, 2013; Stambulova, Alfermann, Statler & CôTé, 2009; Wylleman, Alfermann & Lavallee, 2004). Such golfers frequently have to maintain a full-time job and other activities to supplement their golfing lifestyle as, unlike a professional player"s career, it is not undertaken on a full-time basis (Carroll, 2009; Stambulova et al., 2009; Santos, 2013). They frequently also experience other types of occupational demands and family responsibilities that might all prevent their total commitment to improving their performance (Harmison, 2006). The identification of the barriers experienced by amateur South African golfers is essential for understanding how they influence performance prior to and during competitive games. Findings for this present study revealed that insufficient resources, insufficient practice as well as external and internal pressures all hinder the performance of these golf players. These barriers were found to interact with each other too. The lack of financial resources emerged as a particular concern for most South African golfers as a hindrance to achieving their ultimate goals of becoming professional players. Furthermore, their lack of exposure to a competitive environment and to a variety of golf courses further inhibited the development of their golf skills and tournament mindsets. A scarcity of access to professional services and assistance also prevents them from gaining the required knowledge and expert advice on their game to further develop them into professional players. As mentioned above, another barrier that hinders the improvement of the performance of amateur golfers is insufficient practice. Amateur golfers engage in competitive games on a part-time basis and need to balance different demands simultaneously. However, becoming a professional golfer requires frequent and consistent practice and preparation. The quality of their practice and time allocated to training and sport-related demands emerged from the data as a significant challenge for amateur South African golfers. Another key finding of this study was the external and internal pressures experienced by the said golfers. These include an inadequate social support network, expectations of sponsors leading to performance anxiety, detrimental thought processes and insufficient emotional regulation. These pressures impact on how the golfer thinks about their golf and their emotional experience at that moment. These thoughts and emotions frequently have a negative influence on their behaviour and perceptions, to such an extent that they also hamper the golfer"s performance during a competitive game. Findings from this study highlighted the need for more assistance for amateur golfers in removing or mitigating those barriers that inhibit their performance and hinder their development into professional players.
- Health Sciences