Stefan Quirmbach, long-time president of the PGA of Germany and one of the best-known golf instructors in Germany, sees great potential in the “rehabilitation sport of golf.” “In my opinion, there is no better sport than golf that is suitable for rehabilitation sports,” the golf instructor said in an interview with Golf Week. Golf will be officially recognized as a rehabilitation sport from 2022. This is made possible by an agreement between the Federal Association RehaSport Germany and the social insurance carriers. Until now, only indoor sports were possible. Does this change now open up new target groups for golf?
Certainly, the golf association hopes to gain new members in this way in the medium term. But what golf as a rehabilitation sport might look like in concrete terms is the question. The golf industry has no experience with this, apart from a few model projects. What conditions must golf facilities create for this? And how must golf instructors adapt to the new public?
One way of providing an answer to these unanswered questions comes from the non-profit association golf4you, which sees the short golf it has developed as the ideal discipline for this complex task. Short Golf is golf, or more precisely, it is the short game of golf. More than 90 percent of all golfers already play short golf. These are the players who do not reach the greens regularly and need an approach shot.
Sports scientists at the Technical University of Munich, in their search for health factors, have confirmed that the content and values of major golf can be transferred to short golf courses without any losses. Short golf is played on small artificial turf courses, which means that the maintenance requirements are much lower and the investment costs are also manageable.
Golf players become fit to play faster
Golfers know how complex their sport is to learn. As such, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to quick successes. Rehab sports should be about getting players quickly to a state where they are ready to play. This is another reason why a variation such as short golf lends itself well. Hidden in the stroke variations of precise golf, the student trains swing rhythm based on the physical pendulum, dynamize the swing via muscle tension, and balance, balance.
Short Golf as a flexible option
Decisive for the field of application of Short Golf in rehabilitation sports is the flexibility of the equipment. Packed in a carrier bag, the golf course arrives at the doctor’s office or clinic. The rehab phase prescribed by the doctor does not require a large golf course with long travel times and no special conditions have to be created. Unpacked and moved in 5 minutes, the rehab golf course is ready for immediate use. Such a facility needs with 20 by 4 meters little space and is available for manufacturing costs of about 2000 €. On each practice facility there is space for a short golf island and for training the precise short game.
With such a setup, golf could then really be available to many patients – regardless of whether there is a golf course nearby.
Rehagolf as an introduction to the sport of golf
Around 1.6 million Germans take part in rehab sports every year. However, rehab sport is not a completed therapy and the rehab patients should usually be motivated to continue doing sport of their own accord after the prescribed 50 units. Here then lies the opportunity for the golf clubs. But they only have this chance if beforehand – with Short Golf – the corresponding enjoyment of golf can be awakened.
In an aging society, the range of tasks for rehabilitation sport will increase significantly and many of the patients will then make use of their legal right to rehabilitation sport and opt for golf. It is easy to convey to club managers that rehabilitation sport patients are not “sick people”, but that there is hope of gaining new members in the medium term. With Rehasport, the golf courses get potential customers who would not have come otherwise.
Rehab sport golf is already possible in 2022, but the golf courses must make the necessary preparations. Only then will rehab patients be able to take up basic combination training within the prescribed 50 units.
The short golf approach is by no means particularly new, it’s just that it hasn’t yet arrived in golf. In climbing, for example, it has been common practice for a long time; indoors, people practice on the climbing wall and learn the technique. Shortgolf is therefore the climbing hall of golf. You play here, but you also play outside on the course.