Here’s three stories from November that give an insight into the state of the UK golf industry

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 30, 2023 12:55

Shorter versions of golf, driving range entertainment and midweek golf have all seen huge growth this decade, according to evidence from the last month.

Shorter versions of golf may be the future

The R&A and USGA have jointly announced that, from the start of 2024, shorter-length golf courses, including par three courses, will be included in the World Handicap System’s course rating system. An 18-hole course can be as short as 1,500 yards and a nine-hole course just 750 yards.

Caspar Grauballe, president of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA), has welcomed the move. He said: “Compact courses widen the appeal of golf by not only providing a stepping stone for new golfers to get off the range and play on-course, but they bring a fun experience and also cater for those who do not have the time to play a traditional-length 18-hole course or find the distance challenging.

“It is important to move away from the traditional thought that golf can only be played over 18 holes spread across 6,000 yards. Par-three or nine-hole courses require less land so can be sited nearer to populated areas, use fewer natural resources, and are potentially more profitable as they are cheaper to maintain.”

There’s a new player in UK driving range entertainment

While Topgolf has dominated the driving range entertainment market for more than a generation, it only has four venues in the UK.

Topgolf Glasgow

And that is likely to be matched by BigShots, which opened its second venue in the UK this summer, and now plans to open its third and fourth locations shortly.

Topgolf is unlikely to be too worried by this growth however – it has just bought all four of BigShots venues in the USA for £24 million.

Midweek afternoon golf is booming

The pandemic resulted in a surge in golf participation which is still going strong in 2023.

But the growth in rounds played has not been evenly distributed.

According to a new survey, pre the pandemic in 2019 the number of rounds of golf played in the UK in the afternoons and evenings was almost identical to the number played in the mornings.

Now, though, there’s a 60/40 split in favour of golf later-in-the-day.

Rounds of golf played midweek has also grown at a faster rate than rounds played at the weekend, and the age profile of golfers has dropped.

As one analyst states: “Flexible workers are clocking off early and heading to the course.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 30, 2023 12:55
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  1. Pete USA December 7, 13:19

    Have stopped playing big courses! Now playing quick-play “Hybrid” golf ball correctly scaled to shorter length courses. Provides same full par big game on a smaller scale. Designed for improved & affordable play, less land use, enjoyable golf.

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  2. Philippe de Golfrendezvous December 7, 12:23

    Obviously Topgolf is at the top of the future of golf, aswell for the Par3 courses. We can see how plenty of players come to them…
    This is not my way, I rather play 9 or 12 full holes

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