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An observational study of spectators’ step counts and reasons for attending a professional golf tournament in Scotland
  1. Andrew D Murray1,2,
  2. Kieran Turner1,3,
  3. Daryll Archibald3,
  4. Chloe Schiphorst1,
  5. Steffan Arthur Griffin4,5,
  6. Hilary Scott1,6,
  7. Roger Hawkes4,7,
  8. Paul Kelly1,
  9. Liz Grant8,
  10. Nanette Mutrie1
  1. 1 Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 Department of Sport and Exercise, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4 European Tour Golf, Virginia Water, UK
  5. 5 College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  6. 6 Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK
  7. 7 Sports and Exercise Medicine, University College London, Birmingham, UK
  8. 8 Global Health Academy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew D Murray; docandrewmurray{at}


Background Spectators at several hundred golf tournaments on six continents worldwide may gain health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) during their time at the event. This study aims to investigate spectators’ reasons for attending and assess spectator physical activity (PA) (measured by step count).

Methods Spectators at the Paul Lawrie Matchplay event in Scotland (August 2016) were invited to take part in this study. They were asked to complete a brief questionnaire with items to assess (1) demographics, (2) reasons for attendance and (3) baseline PA. In addition, participants were requested to wear a pedometer from time of entry to the venue until exit.

Results A total of 339 spectators were recruited to the study and out of which 329 (97.2%) returned step-count data. Spectators took a mean of 11 589 steps (SD 4531). ‘Fresh air’ (rated median 9 out of 10) then ‘watching star players’, ‘exercise/physical activity’, ‘time with friends and family’ and ‘atmosphere’ (all median 8 out of 10) were rated the most important reasons for attending.

Conclusion This study is the first to assess spectator physical activity while watching golf (measured by step count). Obtaining exercise/PA is rated as an important reason for attending a tournament by many golf spectators. Spectating at a golf tournament can provide HEPA. 82.9% of spectators achieved the recommended daily step count while spectating. Further research directly assessing whether spectating may constitute a ‘teachable moment’, for increasing physical activity beyond the tournament itself, is merited.

  • physical activity
  • golf
  • health
  • spectating
  • public health

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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  • Contributors ADM, KT, CS, PK, LG and NM contributed to the development of the research questions and study design. ADM, KT, CS, SAG and HS collected and extracted the data. All authors developed the first and subsequent drafts of the manuscript. All authors reviewed and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by an unrestricted grant from the World Golf Foundation, with support from the Medical Research Council and the Chief Scientist Office.

  • Competing interests ADM and RH received an unrestricted grant from the World Golf Foundation to fund this research. The World Golf Foundation agreed to publish findings whether positive, negative, or no associations or effects were found. RH and ADM are remunerated for clinical work for the European Tour Golf.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval School of Education, University of Edinburgh.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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