New figures reveal that golf enjoyed an increase in participation by 2.3 million on-course adult golfers in Great Britain and Ireland last year.
Research led by The R&A, together with England Golf, Golf Ireland, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf, demonstrates how the sport thrived in 2020 despite the significant challenges of Covid-19.
Two new participation reports, produced by Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS), show that a significant number of players enjoyed golf on full-length courses as well as alternative forms of the sport, including the use of driving ranges, Par 3 golf and pitch and putt. There was also an increase in the number of female golfers and a reduction in the average age of participants.
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.”
Key highlights from the 2020 Great Britain Golf Participation Report:
• 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.
• Of these golfers, 36% identified as returning or new golfers – with 16% of players starting or trying golf for the first time because of the pandemic.
• The average age of golfers fell by five years to 41, with the majority of new golfers aged under 55.
• 25% of female golfers were new to the sport – and tried it for the first time because of the pandemic.
• Driving range use increased from 2.3 million to 4.3 million players.
• Golfers who only used Par 3 courses more than doubled, and those who only played on pitch and putt courses more than tripled.
The sport is now being encouraged to grasp the opportunity to retain new and returning players.