Participation has grown by more than two million golfers in the last year

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 26, 2021 12:18

New research commissioned by The R&A has found that the number of people in Great Britain who have played golf on a full-length course in the last year has surged to 5.2 million.

The extraordinary rise is by more than two million people since the pandemic began, and the figure of 5.2 million is the highest recorded this century.

Its ‘2020 Great Britain Golf Participation Report’ finds that 36 percent of these 5.2 million golfers were returning or new players – with 16 percent saying they were trying golf for the first time because of the pandemic. That figure rises to 25 percent for female golfers only.

The average age of golfers fell by five years to 41, with the majority of new golfers aged under 55.

Driving range use also surged – with an increase from 2.3 million to 4.3 million players, and golfers who only used par three courses more than doubled, while those who only played on pitch and putt courses more than tripled.

Meanwhile in Ireland full-length course participation more than doubled – from 219,000 to 540,000 people.

The R&A has also released details of its ‘Post Covid Opportunity Research’ – also carried out by Sports Marketing Surveys – in Great Britain and Ireland, which, along with findings from Bayfirth Research, details experiences of golfers during the pandemic, their motivations for playing and their long-term plans for the future.

Among new golfers, 98 percent of those interviewed said they are enjoying playing golf and 95 percent see themselves playing golf for many years to come.

The impact of Covid-19 restrictions on mental and physical health and loneliness has been considerable, added The R&A, with many interviewees stating that the game has had a positive impact on both.

Phil Anderton, chief development officer at The R&A, said, “We have seen a real surge in the number of golfers in Great Britain and Ireland playing the sport and this is reflected by the high demand for tee times and clubs reporting a strong interest in membership last year.

“Golf has shown that it can provide significant health benefits and this has been important for many golfers during these very challenging times. It is vital that golf seizes the opportunity to maintain this heightened interest by offering new and returning golfers compelling reasons to stay within the sport and enjoy it with friends and family.”

The research also outlined recommendations that clubs can take to retain new players, including feeling welcome and valued; a friendly culture and relaxed atmosphere; participation options based on ability and experience; good customer service; having an efficient booking system; and the quality and maintenance of the course.

Anderton added, “The mental and physical health benefits of golf have helped boost participation in 2020 and that is hugely encouraging given the sport offers a wonderful form of exercise out in the fresh air for all ages and abilities.

“With more female players also coming into the sport, it presents an opportunity for golf clubs to harness interest from this key demographic and to engage in our #FOREeveryone campaign.

“The campaign encourages clubs to consider how they can attract more women and girls into the sport and challenge unhelpful stereotypes to demonstrate that it is an enjoyable pastime and career for people of all ages and backgrounds.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 26, 2021 12:18
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  1. PReeve May 26, 20:58

    Let’s hope they stay involved!! Customers service needs to improve if they are. When was the last time you were welcomed to your club with a happy smiley engaging face? #hospitality #teamwork

    Reply to this comment
  2. Peter May 26, 20:53

    Great news !! Especially where it pertains to women entering the sport !! Leadership and management must now be certain their clubs are female friendly ! Let’s not forget, in most cases, “club life” has been non-existent !! Facilities, policies and programs must be female friendly, otherwise this “boon” might go away, quickly !!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Golf Geeks May 26, 18:04

    Fantastic news for the game, let’s hope they keep playing.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Wordsworth May 26, 17:27

    Wonderful – That means 3.5million won’t be asked (in whatever guise) “would you like another cup of coffee sir/madam”

    Reply to this comment
  5. Toptracer May 26, 14:11

    Driving range usage up 86% in 2020 rising from 2.3m to 4.3m.

    This is a once in a lifetime moment to captivate this audience. Toptracer will further enthuse this audience and support and energise them on their pathway.

    Things. Have. Changed.


    Reply to this comment
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