GB participation holds ground in 2013

    In February, SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. published its latest ‘GB Golf Participation & Rounds Played Top Line’ report – including complete figures for 2013. SMS INC. has given GOLF RETAILING an exclusive first look at the results, and as SMS INC. senior manager Richard Payne writes, 2013 GB participation was down by two percent on 2012, despite outstanding golfing weather over the summer
    GB ‘Core’ golfers (1999-2013)

    Adults who have played on a full-length course (nine or 18 holes) at least 12 times in the last 12 months

    Graph 1






    GB Rounds played monitor (2009-2013)

    Graph 2





    Average number of rounds played per golf course in each month

    Despite a brilliant summer in terms of weather, the SMS INC. GB Participation Report shows that Great Britain lost us as having lost almost 150,000 golfers (147,900 according to SMS INC. research). All of these golfers were lost from the ‘Infrequent’ category golfer, who normally plays less than 12 times a year.

    Counteracting the loss of ‘Infrequent’ golfers in 2013 were the number of ‘Avid’ players (golfers who play at least once a week on average). The ‘Avid’ category actually grew in 2013 compared to 2012, by approximately 88,700 (see ‘Core Golfers’ bar chart) as these keen players were able to play more during the good summer.

    Overall, there are positives to be taken from the Participation report, as it shows that the core of the sport is still very active, that that industry just needs to find ways of encouraging periphery golfers to stay engaged.

    Our research also shows that the average golf club member is 15 years older than the average nomad (non-member), and this could be significant for businesses that are trying to market to these groups. This age difference was only nine years back in 2009, and is clearly driven by an aging average golf club member. It will surprise few in the industry that these figures suggest that golf clubs are failing to attract younger members and that they are losing young professionals.

    SMS INC. research also shows that golfers without children in their household play on average nine rounds more a year than those in households with children, with the implication being that there is an opportunity for clubs to attract more families.

    One of the primary points of action that can be taken from the report is for the golf industry in Great Britain to find ways of ensuring infrequent golfers don’t store their clubs away over the winter and forget about them. Both the ‘Participation’ and ‘Rounds Played’ findings support the need for getting people to play early in the year, with the 2013 ‘Rounds Played’ report showing a two percent drop on 2012. However, weather clearly dictates how much scope there is for golfing in the first quarter of the year, and after the wettest winter on record at the beginning of 2014, Great Britain is likely to have to wait until 2015 for the opportunity to show early-year improvement.

    The full ‘GB Golf Participation & Rounds Played Top Line’ report is available for purchase. The full report includes detailed analysis on who GB’s golfers are; the number of golfers playing at driving ranges and pitch & putt facilities; more differences between members and nomads; and comparisons of golf participation with other sports. For further information please contact Richard Payne:

    T: 01932 345 539