Holland now has more female golfers than England

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 20, 2015 15:18

A shocking new survey on European golf participation rates has found that Holland, which only has 203 golf courses, has significantly more female golfers than England, despite it having nearly ten times as many golf venues.

kpmg cover

The annual KPMG Golf Participation in Europe for 2015 report now looks at 33 European countries to analyse trends since 1985.

It finds that England, Scotland and Wales are the three worst performing countries for female participation in Europe by some distance, and all three also fare badly when it comes to junior participation.

kpmg top 5 female 2

The three UK countries have almost identical ratios for male / female participation, but Wales comes out worst, with 79 percent of its 49,084 golf club members being adult males, 12 percent adult females, and nine percent juniors. In Scotland, 78 percent of its 199,764 golf club members are adult males, 12 percent adult females and nine percent juniors. For England, 78 percent, of its 678,372 golf club members are adult males, 14 percent female and eight percent juniors. All three countries have seen huge drops in membership numbers in recent years, and last year alone England saw a net loss of 34,018 members and eight golf courses, Scotland 10,048 members and six courses and Wales 2,361 members and two courses. The only other established market that saw a comparably bad loss in 2014 was Spain, which lost 14,275 members from nearly 300,000, and three golf courses.

kpmg top 5 female

The only other European countries that have a male participation rate at 70 percent or higher are Romania, Hungary, Portugal and Poland, while several have the rate at below 60 percent. One country, Turkey, even has more junior golfers (45 percent) than adult males (39 percent).

kpmg composition

This means that even though England has far and away the highest number of golf courses in Europe, with 1,849, and the most amount of golf club members, the rest of the top five all have more female golfers. England has 94,138 female golf club members, whereas France has 103,802, Holland, where 32 percent of all golfers are female, has 123,410 registered female golfers, Sweden has 17 more, but Germany, where 35 percent of all golfers are female, is the country that comfortably has the most amount of women golfers: 222,581 – well over twice that of England.

kpmg distribution

Across Europe the golfing population continues to be dominated by male golfers, who in 2014 represented approximately 66 percent of all golfers (an increase from 63 percent in 2012). In 2014 female and junior golfers represented approximately 25 and nine percent of all registered golfers respectively.

Despite the many initiatives aimed at attracting juniors into the game, junior golf participation dropped by 25,445 golfers (minus nine percent) during 2014. In the five largest European golfing countries, the number of registered junior golfers decreased by 12,671 which was seven percent fewer than at the beginning of 2014.

kpmg juniors 2 kpmg juniors 1

All in all, between 1985 and 2010 the average annual growth in the number of golfers was approximately five percent year-on-year. Over the last four years the average decrease in the number of golfers was 1.2 percent per annum, peaking with a decrease of 2.4 percent during 2013 and slowing to two percent in 2014. The decrease in the number of registered golfers since 2010 can be partially attributed to the economic crisis but also perhaps to changes in lifestyle which may also be impacting on golf participation.

kpmg 1985-2010

During 2014 the number of registered golfers in Europe fell by 1.8 percent, or by approximately 77,000 golfers.

There was a 4.4 percent decrease in the number of registered golfers in Great Britain and Ireland during 2014.

Across the less developed golf markets, the biggest growth in demand in 2014 can be seen in Greece (+17.5 percent) and Poland (+8.2 percent). This amounted to 350 and 283 additional golfers respectively, reflecting the relatively small size of the golfing market in these countries compared to more mature markets.

The Czech Republic is considered to be Eastern Europe’s most established golf market. Golf continued to grow even during the global economic crisis and the number of golfers has almost doubled since 2007. At the beginning of 2015 there were 56,438 registered golfers.

In 2014 there was practically no change in the total number of golf courses across the analysed countries, offering some confidence for further stabilisation in 2015.

“Much emphasis has been put on the importance and the potential of popularising the game among women and juniors,” said a KPMG spokesman.

“Whilst this trend can be seen in other parts of the world – in Asia in particular, the same success is not yet visible in Europe, with the exceptions of the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

kpmg market

“As Europe comes out of economic recession, the real position of golf as a leisure pastime will become apparent. “The various initiatives that have been introduced to make golf attractive and appealing to a wider audience must continue and will hopefully bring more robust results. “However whilst it is important that golf fully embraces new technology that, for example, can help to track performances and greater emphasis be put on the potential impact of social media, the core elements of golf that have endured over the years – companionship and competition (measured against oneself and others) in an outdoor environment – must further emphasised.

“Hopefully what we have observed in some markets are the start of a meaningful recovery. Belgium and Switzerland have managed to attract more new golfers to the game. Programmes such as open days organised by most golf federations and the junior golf in Scotland are examples of initiatives that it is hoped will show results in our next participation reports.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 20, 2015 15:18
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1 Comment

  1. Vivien Saunders June 5, 11:08

    Presumably the advantage Holland has over England is that the Dutch don’t have England Golf interfering with things, telling club owners and managers how to run their affairs, encouraging cut price golf and supporting the agents killing everyone with the 20% commission.

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