The European Tour has announced that golf participation in the UK is far from being in decline and is actually flourishing, especially amongst a younger demographic.
The findings have emerged from the ‘Golf Actives Study’, a first-of-its-kind programme commissioned by The European Tour, which is published this week and which aims to establish a complete picture of golf activity and engagement in the UK.
The study revealed that 11 million people in the UK (9.3 million adults and a further 1.7 million junior golfers) are actively engaged in the game of golf, a figure which represents almost a fifth of the total population.
According to The European Tour, previous golf participation numbers have not reflected the changing face of the game itself with the figure of 3.5 million adults within the study – who are considered to be full length course users – often being the only figure referenced.
However the emergence of several shorter formats of the sport are still actively engaging people to take part in golf, many of them juniors. These formats include: the Driving Range, (3.1m ‘active’ users); Pitch and Putt (2.3m); Nine Hole Courses (2.2m); Putting Greens (1.7m); and Par Three or Short Courses (1.2m).
In addition, non-traditional formats of golf to have attracted active engagement in the game include Adventure or Mini-Golf (2.7m ‘active’ users); Golf Computer Games (1.9m); and Golf Simulators (0.4m). As a result, these ‘golf actives’ are taking part in more-than-one of these varied formats of the game.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “Our ‘Golf Actives Survey’ suggests our sport is very healthy, participation in it is changing and the younger generation have more options to experience our wonderful game.
“That doesn’t mean playing 18 holes should not remain the pinnacle of golf: indeed, doing so successfully is the goal to which most will continue to aspire. It simply means that playing 18 holes shouldn’t be the sole yardstick we use to measure participation.”
Key to the new study was unveiling the role of younger people involved in the game. As many as one in five under-18s is considered to be a ‘Golf Active’ by The European Tour, with adventure golf, pitch and putt and the driving range all more popular forms of the game than a full length course in that age group.
And while golf computer games are played more frequently than any other format, in real terms as many young people are now found at a Par Three course, a Putting Green or a Nine Hole course trying to emulate what they have seen on their mobile devices.
The European Tour believes there is an opportunity to promote wider forms of golf, encouraging younger Golf Actives to be involved over a shorter time frame, and at non-traditional venues, as a precursor to embracing longer forms of the game.
Keith Pelley added: “You only need to look at the joy on the faces of the kids at Woburn at the Golf Foundation’s Street Golf Festival to see how much enjoyment they are getting out of golf. Are they playing on a full length golf course? No, not yet. But are they participating in golf and having fun with the game? Yes they are, and that is very positive for our sport.”
While this initial survey concentrates on participation in the UK, The European Tour can confirm they already have plans in place to commission similar studies in key Continental European markets in the near future.
Nationally representative research was conducted by SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC. via 10,050 online interviews carried out in the UK. Fieldwork took place between 5th June and 6th July 2015. The sample size is representative of the online UK population at a confidence level of 99% and with a confidence interval of 1.29.
Individual figures quoted in the press release add up to more than the quoted total Golf Actives audience of 11m due to duplication of activity – people taking part in more than one form of the game in any given year. The total audience figure represents a de-duplicated total audience.
Source: European Tour www.europeantour.com