Q1 sees participation fall

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 9, 2024 11:45

Golf participation in England, Scotland and Wales for the first quarter of 2024 was slightly down compared with the previous two years.

This comes after a wet autumn and winter in which many golf clubs have had to close their courses for several days. Despite this, participation was still well above the first quarter of 2020, in which the first lockdown was only introduced in the second half of March.

Last year also saw a year-on-year first quarter participation drop – and the year turned out to be a bumper year.

The average monthly number of rounds played per course in England, Wales and Scotland in January, February and March was 1,385, reports Sporting Insights.

Compared to the same period in 2023, this represents a decrease of 14 percent. The greatest impacts were felt in the Midlands and northern England, although there were green shoots for the latter in the form of a year-on-year growth in March.

Scotland and southern England experienced single digit percentage drops against the first quarter in 2023. It should be noted however that 2023 enjoyed strong February and March performances. For March 2024 to finish three percent down year-on-year is, according to one analyst, a decent result that should not be interpreted as cause for pessimism as golf moves into the critical summer window.

“A few things are important to bear in mind,” noted Richard Payne, joint managing director of Sporting Insights.

“First is the relative strength of 2023 and 2022 when looking at any downward shifts in performance. March for example remains ahead of 2019’s numbers.

“The second is that, while not insubstantial – in fact the appetite for winter golf reflects the hardiness of so many GB golfers – Q1 rounds are dwarfed by summer numbers that are two to three times higher on average than we see over Q1, so there is more than enough time for the year to end in growth. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that like any outdoor sport, fluctuations in participation happen. This is the first quarter to see a year-on-year drop in rounds played since Q1 last year. If declines in rounds played persist throughout the year, then there may be conversations that the industry needs to have, but it’s much too early to worry at this stage.”

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 9, 2024 11:45
Write a comment


  1. Nick May 16, 09:20

    Lies, damn lies and statistics… wettest winter/spring on record and someone misinterprets the obvious effect of closed courses and bad weather to suggest a downturn in golf. Laughable really, hope they weren’t paid a fortune for their “expertise”.

    Reply to this comment
  2. GRIDSERVE May 9, 11:58

    Can’t believe the dip isn’t bigger given how many courses were somewhat underwater!

    Reply to this comment
    • Truck May 16, 14:56

      The courses I play felt as though they were open for only a handful of days per month starting in October. 16 rounds of 9 holes or more from Oct to end of Dec. I would normally play Saturday and Sunday, retired in November so midweek now available and courses shut most of December
      Jan to March only 22 games played over a 91 day period as fingers crossed the rains would stop.
      Talk about a report stating the obvious, I’m more concerned as to the viability of clubs when they could not get members to the club, visitors etc yet still had same running costs.

      Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:


For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: