Figures published by Sports Marketing Surveys Inc show golf participation in Britain stabilised in 2014 at just above the 3.3 million mark, offering hope to the golf industry after a decade of decay. Although golf participation remains at its lowest level for over a decade, the SMS Inc study shows clear progression and opportunities for the sport to grow.
For the second consecutive year female participation has risen, as has the number of ‘avid’ golfers (who play at least once a week on average). It is this group of golfers (avid) who define and guide the sport, so the industry should be buoyed by the additional 53,000 players whose play frequency brought them into this dedicated category in 2014.
As with the 2013 statistics, a cause for concern is the number of ‘infrequent’ golfers, who play less than twelve times a year, which is at its lowest on record since the millennium (1,786,000). Time is a major factor influencing player numbers, and may be the significant reason behind the decline in infrequent golfers.
Richard Payne, senior manager of sports accounts at SMS Inc commented, “Whilst the 2014 figures give the golf industry reason to be more positive, the continued decline of infrequent golfers remains a challenge that needs to be overcome. SMS Inc has continuously stressed the importance of the ‘three F’s’ – Fun, Flexible, and Family’, a vision which the industry must fully adopt following these latest figures, to convert both first-time triallists and new golfers who may be using driving ranges into full-length course users, and secondly to prevent the loss of more infrequent players. ”