Golf participation continues to slide in England

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim December 16, 2015 12:26

The number of people who play golf once a month in England dropped by 25,000 to just over 1.1 million between October 2014 and September 2015 according to new data.

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Sport England’s Active People Survey has been charting the number of people playing golf since 2008, when the sport had more than 1.54 million monthly participants.

There is better news for weekly golf participation in England and Britain in just the last year, however.

The number of people playing golf weekly stands at 740,100, a rise of nearly 10,000 in a year, but still nearly 200,000 less than seven years ago.

Sandy Jones, chief executive of the PGA, said he was pleased with the increase in weekly golfers, which is predominantly with golfers aged 16 to 25.


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“It is heartening to see these results and especially to see the recovery in the numbers of young people who are playing golf. But there is still much more to be done to consolidate these results and to grow the game. That is why there is ever closer collaboration across the industry to ensure our collective efforts are focused on the right priorities for the future.”

David Joy, outgoing chief executive of England Golf, said: “A great deal of hard and coordinated work is taking place at club, county and national levels, to recruit and retain more players and members, to provide the right coaching opportunities and to show that golf really is a game for all. These results will encourage all who are involved in this work to continue their efforts and to keep moving in the same direction.”

The news comes as market research company SMS INC. revealed that the average number of rounds of golf played across England, Wales and Scotland during the third quarter of 2015 was down seven percent on the third quarter of 2014.


SMS INC.’s senior manager Richard Payne commented “Inclement weather and a variety of sporting events have taken their toll on rounds played for Q3 this year although it is important to bear in mind that 2015 figures are above those seen in 2013 and 2012.

“Looking at the year to date figures, there is still cause to be positive about golf participation this year with rounds remaining one percent up on 2014.”

The results also come as a new survey into golf participation into non-traditional formats such as adventure golf and simulators finds activity is currently booming.

The Golf Actives Study, a first-of-its-kind programme commissioned by the European Tour, revealed that 11 million people in the UK are actively engaged in the game of golf in some form.

According to the European Tour, previous golf participation numbers have not reflected the changing face of the game itself with full length course users often being the only figure referenced.

The survey found that the driving range has 3.1 million active users, adventure or mini-golf 2.7 million, pitch and putt courses 2.3 million, nine hole courses 2.2 million, golf computer games 1.9 million, putting greens 1.7 million, par three or short courses 1.2 million and golf simulators 400,000.

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, said: “Our Golf Actives Survey suggests our sport is very healthy, participation in it is changing and the younger generation have more options to experience our wonderful game.

“That doesn’t mean playing 18 holes should not remain the pinnacle of golf: indeed, doing so successfully is the goal to which most will continue to aspire. It simply means that playing 18 holes shouldn’t be the sole yardstick we use to measure participation.”


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim December 16, 2015 12:26
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1 Comment

  1. Adrian Stiff December 17, 16:01

    Shows all sports are not doing well. We should promote the health benifits of golf and all sports, healthy people require less from the NHS. Governments should support sport by granting free council tax, vat exemptions, this allows venues to succeed and be better in peoples lives, not poncing a £40,000 grab on all golf courses with their rate assessments. Help not hinder, let us all be able to give juniors free golf up to 16.

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