Rebounding golf participation in the UK

By: July 14, 2013

Golf club membership retention and golf participation are two hot topics more than ever. When I was planning what to write in this post, some guesses went through my head.

Is there a problem with the green fee prices? Do golf clubs adjust their pricing policy to the current economic climate (the same applies to golf equipment manufacturers)? Is there a such lifestyle change that people find less attractive to play golf or they don't wish to spend so much time with golf. May be we should play rather on 9 hole golf courses….

I've got some good and bad news well.

In June 2012 according to the latest figures from Sport England’s Active People Survey golf participation is rebounding in the UK. Let's hope that this trend will continue this year.

Golf participation trend UK 2012

However I think it is not good for the golf industry on the long run that the key driver of this growth is the 65+ age group (even if the Office for National Statistics say the most common age at death in England and Wales in 2010 was 85 for men and 89 for women.). I think it is clear why I am not happy with this finding:

Golf participation trend UK 2012 by age groups
Previously I had already written about women as a great source of opportunity for the  golf industry. Unfortunately, 75% of GB&I golfers are men (vs. Austria where this share is only 54.9%).

Other growth opportunity is to tackle with the phenomenon of "nomad golfers". Their share in GB&I is 68%. This is not a exclusive phenomenon of GB&I, but also in Europe. I consider myself a nomad golfer.

They are those golfers who are not member of a golf course, as a result they are not registered with the National Federation. They prefer to play at commercial pay-n-play courses at municipal or local authority venues or by paying green fees at predominantly member golf courses. They outnumber the registered golfer 2.1 players to 1 player.

In Phoenix Arizona golf course owners found a quite an interesting solution to the phenomenon of nomad golfers. They offer if you join their club to play in the surrounding (within 20 miles) golf courses for steeply reduced rates and tee time reservation privileges. Another ownership group offers a 4 for 2 and 2 for 1 card that cuts costs by 1/2.

I see some kind of relation between the growth of golf participation and's growth. Or we talk more about golf than we actually play?? I think the healthy age group of active golfers should be like's readers who are mainly in 25-55 age group.

Find out where are the golf hot spots and hubs in the UK:

Golfshake UK