Number of Golfers in Great Britain & Ireland Reaches Highest Figure This Century
Much has been said and written about the staggering surge in golf participation that was recorded last year, but new data published by The R&A has emphasised just how impressive the numbers were.
Conducting research alongside England Golf, Golf Ireland, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf, The R&A has showcased two new participation reports, produced by Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS), which identify encouraging trends for the game and highlight the need to ensure that the positive direction isn't lost.
Key Findings - 2020 GB&I Golf Participation Report
- GB&I Golf participation increased by 2.3 million on-course adults in 2020.
- Participation reports finds more women playing golf.
- Since the pandemic began, the average age of golf participants has decreased by five years.
- Of these golfers, 36% identified as returning or new golfers – with 16% of players starting or trying golf for the first time because of the pandemic.
- The majority of new golfers were aged under 55.
- Driving range use increased from 2.3 million to 4.3 million players.
- Golfers who only used par 3 courses more than doubled, and those who only played on pitch and putt courses more than tripled.
Commenting, Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said, “We have seen a real surge in the number of golfers in Great Britain and Ireland playing the sport and this is reflected by the high demand for tee times and clubs reporting a strong interest in membership last year.
“Golf has shown that it can provide significant health benefits and this has been important for many golfers during these very challenging times. It is vital that golf seizes the opportunity to maintain this heightened interest by offering new and returning golfers compelling reasons to stay within the sport and enjoy it with friends and family.”
The health benefits of golf were a huge attraction for many new and returning players; 79% identified playing golf had a positive impact on loneliness/isolation, 92% identified playing golf had a positive impact on mental health, and 70% identified playing golf had a positive impact on physical health.
Looking closely at those new golfers - and most encouragingly for clubs and venues - 98% of those interviewed stated they are enjoying playing golf and 95% see themselves playing for many years to come.
Intriguingly, driving ranges have shown themselves to be a key introductory pathway into golf for new players, something we have previously explored in the feature articles The Need To Save Municipal Golf Courses And Importance Of Driving Ranges and What Makes Driving Ranges Essential.
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