More golf rounds were played in 2021 than in 2020

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 13, 2022 11:30

Figures for rounds of golf played in the UK in the whole of 2021 show a significant increase even on 2020, when the pandemic boom started and saw its biggest growth.

According to Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS), 2021’s annual rounds were up 12 percent against 2020.

However, the company states a fairer comparison would be with 2018 and 2019, due to the lack of lockdowns in those years, in which case the number of rounds is up by a huge 17 percent on both those years.

The growth was even bigger when just comparing fourth quarter (Q4) data.

When compared against the pre-pandemic period, 2021 surged past equivalent figures from 2019. Against Q4 2019, for example, 2021 was up 40 percent.

Q4 in 2020 did see more golf rounds played than in 2021, however.

“As expected, there was some drop off against the peak months in 2020 when lockdowns ended and golf reopened to a groundswell of pent-up demand,” said an SMS spokesman. “In October and December 2020 rounds played were well above equivalent levels in previous years. Although in 2021 quarter four could not maintain the strong 2020 demand levels, it still outperformed previous seasons.”

Richard Payne, director of SMS, said: “First and foremost, it’s great to see rounds played growing, proving that demand for golf is strong as we head into an exciting 2022.

Rising costs and inflation are likely to put pressure on leisure budgets this year and so, particularly for those who came into golf during the pandemic, the key question now is how embedded has it become in their sporting and lifestyle DNA. Is it a core hobby that they will continue to play even if the costs of access and equipment rise in line with inflation in other areas of the economy? The strong results for Q4 do suggest golfers continuing to play through the inclement winter months, and so we are optimistic that people will stay in the game.”

Phil Anderton, chief development officer at The R&A, welcomed the results. He said: “We have seen full-length course user golf participation rise to over 66 million worldwide in 2021 and almost 11 million in Europe. The rounds played for Great Britain in 2021 continue to support the evidence that more golfers are playing more often and realising the benefits of the sport for their physical and mental health. Golf, however, cannot become complacent as a sport and the industry must grasp the opportunity to maintain this interest by offering new and returning golfers the opportunity to stay in the sport and enjoy it at all levels – from traditional forms to new formats.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 13, 2022 11:30
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1 Comment

  1. julie February 11, 12:49

    Such good news for the sport

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