The golf participation surge continued until the end of 2020

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 9, 2021 07:04

New figures on golf participation in the UK show that year-on-year participation went up by an incredible 41 percent for the final three months of 2020, even though most golf courses were closed for about a third of that time.

For example, in England all golf courses were closed for almost the whole of November, while in Wales courses were closed for several days in October, November and December.

Yet, according to Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS), which tracks rounds played at a number of venues, the number of rounds played in the UK from October to December 2020 was up by 41 percent compared with 2019.

Given the closures, this was perhaps an even bigger rise than the 59 percent year-on-year growth that UK venues saw in July, August and September.

Across the country, total 2020 rounds played were up by 12 percent compared to 2019 – and that also includes the several weeks most venues were closed from March to May.

The north was the biggest beneficiary in the fourth quarter, growing 66 percent to end 13 percent up for the year.

The Midlands and Scotland both grew by over 40 percent between October and December, while the south region enjoyed a 30 percent rise and was the most successful region for the year overall, up by over 20 percent.

This also suggests that any concerns that the surge in participation seen in May and June 2020 would be short-lived and over by the end of the summer, were misplaced.

Richard Payne, director of SMS, said: “I know from speaking to them just how hard so many of the golf courses and governing bodies have worked to generate these results, but we still shouldn’t take them for granted.

“Golf has been one of the massive success stories of the past year in sport, with the UK success emulated in America. None of that has happened by accident. It’s also important to recognise that there will still be many individual facilities who are struggling. Those courses and resorts dependent on tourism, hotel guests, and large societies will need support in the months to come.

“Overall, we know how important the weather will be in determining the scale of the recovery and growth this year, but, for a number of reasons, including ongoing widespread working from home, which will give people more time to play, we are optimistic and expect to see a further boost in 2021 when golf courses can reopen.”

A spokesman added: ‘The findings should also increase the pressure in support of the growing weight of evidence that golf can be played safely in accordance with social distancing, and should therefore be one of the first activities permitted to reopen.

‘Applying these figures to industry norms, golf courses dealt with an extra 3,750 pitch marks per month across 2020, including an extra 8,750 per month between May and December.’


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 9, 2021 07:04
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  1. JulieB February 14, 20:40

    Roll on course re-opening and this trend continuing! Were you part of that 2020 increase in rounds played? If you were did you consider a Distance Measuring Device an essential part of your kit? If so which one? A note in the comments would be super helpful ️‍♀️

    Reply to this comment
  2. Amanda February 13, 11:25

    Looking forward to golf re-starting!

    Reply to this comment
  3. JWilson February 10, 12:08

    Increase in U.K. golf participation.Golf : fresh air , exercise , re energise mind , body and soul whilst practising safe distancing . ️‍♂️

    Reply to this comment
  4. Ford February 10, 12:01

    A great year for golf no doubt!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Golf Club Solutions February 9, 17:31

    A great insight and very important to share the positive message.

    I hope golf clubs take the opportunity to build on this.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Mango Golf Management February 9, 17:06

    Great news!

    Does anyone think that will be sustained throughout 2021 and beyond?

    #mangogolf #golfmanagement #golfconsultancy

    Reply to this comment
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