Paul McGinley: 'Celebs key to golf's growth'

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Paul McGinley says events such as the Abu Dhabi Invitational are vital to helping golf reach wider audiences and, in turn, get more people involved in the sport.

The Abu Dhabi Invitational takes place on the award-winning Yas Links this weekend and features a professional golfers’ team against a celebrity team – of which McGinley is captain of the professionals and legendary goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel (below) the celebrities.

The event raises vital funds for charities – including the 2014 Ryder Cup captain’s own McGinley Foundation – with the likes of singer Ronan Keating, rower Sir Matthew Pinsent, rugby World Cup winner Mike Tindall, ex-footballers Ruud Gullit, Dwight Yorke, Ronald De Boer and Roberto Di Matteo and cricket heroes James Anderson (below Schmeichel), Brian Lara and Jacques Kallis among the names teeing it up.

Read more -> Paul McGinley slams DJ US Open farce

Peter Schmeichel

And McGinley believes getting sporting royalty and celebrities together for pro-am tournaments such as this and getting them to play and share their experiences on social media can only help widen golf’s appeal.

“One of the things I’ve learned over the past year being on the board of the European Tour through my involvement with Sky Sports is how people are consuming sport,” he told bunkered.co.uk.

Sports stars and celebrities have a huge following outwith traditional golf fans

- Paul McGinley

“It’s not just sitting down and watching it for a two or three-hour period now.

“Social media has become stronger and stronger and if you look at what has happened on the European Tour, we’ve invested a lot of money in that department and created some really good, innovative content that has been getting a lot of traction.

James Anderson1

“These other sports stars and celebrities have a huge following outwith your traditional golf fans, so if they’re sharing their golf experiences with their thousands of followers, the sport is reaching out to more people and that can only be seen as a good thing.”

For the Abu Dhabi Invitational, each professional and each celebrity will be paired with a VIP guest and the teams will compete against each other in a Ryder Cup fourball format.

Paul McGinley will be starring at The Abu Dhabi Invitational 2017 #Unforgettable.

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