Participation in golf drives up over 12 months

New findings, thanks to a survey in part created by the St Andrews-based R&A, have shown that participation in golf almost doubled in 2020.
The R&A's Phil Anderton has welcomed the boost in golf's participationThe R&A's Phil Anderton has welcomed the boost in golf's participation
The R&A's Phil Anderton has welcomed the boost in golf's participation

The sport’s boost, during and incredibly challenging 12 months, has been hailed by various relevant bodies and golf is now being urged to capitalise on its growing popularity.

The research, led by the R&A together with England Golf, Golf Ireland, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf and produced by Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS), reveals that golf enjoyed an increase in participation by 2.3 million on-course adult golfers in Great Britain and Ireland last year.

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It also showed that more women are now playing golf and that, since the Covid-19 pandemic started, the average age of golf participants has decreased by five years.

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.”

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Some of the key highlights of the reports showed that the total adult golfers on a full-length course, 9 or 18 hole, increased significantly by 2.1 million players to 5.2 million – the highest figure recorded this century.

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 and having an efficient booking system.

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.

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