Golf Participation Numbers Reveal Huge Increase Despite Pandemic

The R&A has revealed that more than 5.7 million people played golf of some format in 2020, up from just over 2.3 million participants in 2019.

golf participation numbers
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The R&A has revealed that more than 5.7 million people played on a full-length golf course in 2020, up from just over 2.3 million participants in 2019.

Golf Participation Numbers Reveal Huge Increase Despite Pandemic

The R&A's research reveals that golf enjoyed an increase in participation by 2.3 million on-course adult golfers in Great Britain and Ireland last year.

The R&A worked with England Golf, Golf Ireland, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf, to determine that the sport grew considerably in 2020, despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two further participation reports, produced by Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS), show that more female golfers participated in the sport, while the average age of players reduced.

The research reveals that players enjoyed both short and long forms of the game, with the use of driving ranges, par three golf, and pitch and putt just as popular as golf on full-length courses.

The 2020 Great Britain Participation Report highlighted that the total adult golfers on a full-length course, including both nine or 18 holes, increased from 2.1 million in 2019, to 5.2 million in 2020.

Related: How far do male golfers hit their drives?

Meanwhile, the 2020 Ireland Participation Report found that golfers playing on a full-length course rose from 219,000 to 540,000.

The majority of new golfers in Great Britain are aged under 55, with the average age dropping by five years, from 46 to 41-years-old.

Conversely, a third of adult golfers new to the sport in Ireland were under 25-years-old.

Female participation also saw an increase, with 25 per cent of all female players new to golf.

Related: How far do female golfers hit their drives?

Driving range use increased in Great Britain by two million, as the amount of people solely using pitch and putt more than tripled as well.

The R&A's Chief Development Officer, Phil Anderton, 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.

"The mental and physical health benefits of golf have helped boost participation in 2020 and that is hugely encouraging given the sport offers a wonderful form of exercise out in the fresh air for all ages and abilities.

"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."