Average age of golfers up a massive 15 years since 2009

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim November 7, 2014 12:01

The average age of people who play golf regularly in the UK is up an incredible 15 years from 48 to 63 in less than five years, according to data.

A report in the Financial Times, referencing work conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS INC), states that ‘in the UK, the average age of golfers is up from 41 in 2009 to 45, while that of ‘avid golfers’, those who play at least once a week, is up from 48 to 63, according to SMS INC.’

“Getting younger golfers to join and retain memberships at golf clubs is an ongoing challenge,” said SMS INC.

Golf clubs in the UK have seen memberships fall and a participation drop in the game, and one of the main problems has been getting people in their 30s and 40s to play golf to replace those who have played the game throughout their advanced years.

One of the reasons why Haywards Heath Golf Club in West Sussex, for example, brought in a flexible membership scheme, in which golfers pay a discounted annual subscription to be a member of the club, and then reduced or free green fees for a certain number of rounds they play, last year, was to reduce the average age of members of the club.

“The new membership category quickly achieved one of our stated aims – the recruitment of younger golfers aged 30 to 50 who are working and / or with families,” said Graham White, club secretary.

“These time-poor, frustrated golfers cannot justify full subscriptions for the few times they can afford to play. Therefore, flexible has attracted back some of our past members who gave up when they reached 30 and the discounted young persons’ subs stopped.

“We have also attracted new members in this same 30 to 50 age bracket whose golf has consisted of occasional outings with groups and societies. Now they are benefitting from being part of a members’ club with official handicaps and competitions.

“I believe that once you attract a member who is at least over 40 and settled in their career, many will stay with the club through to retirement and beyond.”


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim November 7, 2014 12:01
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  1. Thomas Jones December 5, 11:40

    This shows how useless the EGU is and the reason the age has gone up is because golf costs too much. Plus golf require more time than any other sport, who has time??? Yes 63 year olds. But if we can get a British Tiger Woods it would help a lot to encourage new and younger golfers.

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  2. Bob Braban November 23, 18:07

    Ian is right that golf clubs and administrators are in denial. I spend a lot of time in the USA where they have faced this same problem and have overcome it in many areas. Those clubs that do not treat visitors with the same respect that any other consumer business affords its customers generally treat their members little better. Historically golf clubs have been very welcoming to a core of members, often numbering less than 20% of the membership. Those people have often monopolised the management and run the club to suit their own requirements, using income from the other 80% to do so. Those days are over. In past years I served on the committees of three such clubs and found efforts to change them to be largely futile. Economic realities will now do so. In the USA i have seen superb examples of how to market to both members and visitors and the clubs that have adopted those new concepts are forging ahead. Persuading our UK clubs to adopt the same ‘be welcoming to visitors’ policies has been very difficult, but it is starting to happen and those that are acting have found that it is bringing rewards. It also allows committees to sleep more easily at night!


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  3. Bob Braban November 13, 15:35

    No surprise at all. The trend was identifiable more than ten years ago. The whole profile of golf clubs is changing and has to change even more if clubs are to survive. Sadly, the efforts of England Golf are not the answer. Of course we should all seek to encourage membership of golf clubs and membership fees will continue to provide a proportion of a club’s income, but if England Golf think that membership initiatives will solve the problem, they are very wrong. The difference between the successful and the failing golf club over the next few years will be marked their ability to attract visitors and green fees and the resolve with which they tackle the current propensity for overspending in areas where savings should be made. The clubs that tackle these problems can have a bright future, but putting difficult decisions off to next year is to court disaster.

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  4. dave November 9, 12:20

    obviously not , england golf do not want to support courses that attract beginners ,which are set up specifically for new golfers they are out there but get NO help.

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  5. Chris November 8, 21:05

    So all of golf’s investment through England Golf; the golf county partnerships and involvement of forward thinking clubs as often reported is really working ?

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    • Ian Mullins November 20, 15:23

      Well if you consider that club membership is down by 9% since 2006 – something’s not right!

      Unless they start treating pay and players like customers who are spending upwards of £50-80 per visit (would a restaurant owner treat you with such contempt) they will continue to close.

      We have tried to engage with clubs and England Golf to no avail. They’re all in denial. However, the clubs that are working with us, are seeing real hard cash in the tills and we don’t take a penny from them in commissions!

      We are growing at a pace of 20-30% a year and are now doing over a 1m hits per year from 8k+ members. So it’s not golf that’s stuck in the dark ages – it’s golf clubs and the administrators! 🙂

      Ps Met with EGP too, said they would come back to us in a month …. four months later I am still waiting for the call?!

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