Are Golfers Playing Less Often Due to Rising Costs
WELL here we are again. The results are in for the 2022 Golfshake Survey, with more than 3,500 of you responding to tell us about your lives on the golf course.
We have also taken the opportunity to look back at the data from the pre-Covid survey conducted in 2019.
These have been strange times for club golf, with the sport enjoying a well-documented boom during the pandemic. So how are things looking post-Covid?
Those of you who responded to our 2022 survey were mainly male club golfers over the age of 40 and with a handicap less than 20. The age profile was slightly higher than 2019 and we saw an increase in club members, an overall drop in handicap and more golf being played - none of that should come as a surprise.
Are Golfers Playing Less?
The survey found that golfers were playing less than normal. There could be many reasons for this but it should be remembered that our survey was launched at a time when inflation and interest rates were rising and that is certain to have had an impact - and could continue to do as we move forward.
We are not suggesting that the boom is over but our survey results possibly indicate that things are returning to pre-Covid times.
In our 2022 survey, 22% off you said you were playing less golf - the figure in 2019 was 23%. So very little change there.
For those of you who told us they were playing fewer rounds of golf, the reasons were pretty predictable.
- 25% put it down to time limitations - this figure was 30% in 2019
- 20% played less because of injury - 17% in 2019
- 11% played less because of cost - this was only 6% in 2019. This could be put down to increased membership fees and, possibly, concerns about the economic climate.
- 11% played less due to playing partners - this was a similar figure of 10% in 2019
When asked if they would play more golf if they could, the number fell from 90% in 2019 to 82% in 2022.
And the reasons you gave were:
- 58% due to lack of time
- 32% because of family commitments
- 25% access to playing partners
- 23% because of the cost
As the economic downturn continues to bite it may well be that increasing numbers of club golfers look at their budgets and spending habits in the weeks and months ahead. Golf clubs are facing rising costs, just like the rest of us, but can they risk passing these on through increased annual subscriptions? Time will tell.
Are Green Fees Priced Right?
We asked if you felt green fees were priced right in 2022. As you would expect, a tiny 1% said they were too cheap, 54% stated they were about right but almost half - 46% - believe green fees are too expensive. Unsurprisingly, 42% of club golfers felt green fees were too expensive compared to 48% of the non club golfers who were surveyed.
We also wanted to know what changes you had seen in green fees in 2022 when compared with the previous year. 62% saw an increase of £5-£10, 15% more than £10 and 23% felt greens fee were similar in price in 2022.
And how much were you paying for a round of golf in 2022? Some 46% of our respondents paid between £25 and £40 for 18 holes. We also looked at the sums from 2019, and this is how they compared:
- 12% paid an average below £20 in 2022 - the 2019 figure was 21%
- 58% paid an average below £30 - 2019 figure was 65%
- 80% paid an average below £40 - 2019 figure was 80%
- 14% paid an average above £40 - 2019 figure was 8%
- 6% only pay their own club - 2019 figure was 10%
Inevitably, there has also been a huge increase in the number of you who now use digital platforms. We compared the numbers from 2012 and 2022.
Over that period, those using club software increased from 43% to 55%. Those using tee time services rose from 40% to 46% whilst the percentage simply calling the pro/shop dropped from 50% to 36% and an even bigger drop was seen with golfer who simply ‘rock up’ with the figure down from 20% to just 7%. During Covid, booking processes may have forced golfers to shift online and that is here to stay.
Will Golfers Continue to Spend on Golf?
Green fees and annual subscriptions are on the rise and, as we have already said, the state of the economy is likely to have an impact both on how much we spend on the game and on golf club finances.
However, 2022 was a good year for the game, with just 16% of our respondents telling us they spent less last year, while 39% of you actually spent more.
There remains optimism about the year ahead too, with 41% indicating that you will, or might, spend more and only 12% of you aim to spend less.
When it comes to equipment, most golfers are keen to upgrade to make the most of the latest technology on the market and an impressive 40% of our respondents are planning to look at buying new clubs within the next months - good news for the golf industry.
Even better news comes with the fact that 38% of you are likely to support your local club professional ahead of larger retailers. This is something of a surprise because club professionals are seldom able to compete with the chains when it comes to price. On the other hand, they will be more familiar with your game and will not sell you equipment to which you are unsuited.
The pandemic meant that golf trips simply didn’t happen - at home or abroad. But you are itching to make up for lost time, with 54% of our respondents having already booked or are planning to book or research an overseas golf break to play in the sun.
You also tell us that society golf has taken a hit. It is possible that part of the reason for this is related to the increase in club members, as well as the fact that green fees have risen and busy courses are less likely to be able to cope with large societies. According to our 2022 survey, 51% of our respondents told us they were involved with a golf group or society - in 2019, the figure was 56%.
In the main then, golf appears to be in pretty rude health, and that is something we should all celebrate. But nobody will need us to remind golf clubs that they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.
We will provide further analysis focused on the issues raised above and the comments fed back to us. In the meantime, please let us know in the comments below how golf was for you in 2022 and how you believe things will pan out in 2023.
Golf Clubs Are Benefiting From Putting Their Members First
Golfers Are Playing More Than Ever Before - But How Do You Compare
When Should Golf Green Fees Stop Rising
What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)
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