New figures on the number of rounds played of golf played in England, Scotland and Wales in 2021 show significant medium term growth, despite an expected drop compared to the third quarter of 2020, against which 2021 rounds fell 7%.
The South of England region, which recorded unprecedented levels of play in 2020, experienced the greatest drop in 2021.
SMS Director Richard Payne, who coordinates the company’s golf research, said: “It isn’t surprising that we have seen a decline [in Rounds Played] against 2020, which was an anomaly in lots of ways. What was always going to be the key this year was the proportion of those new players and new rounds that golf has managed to retain.
“In absolute terms, the comparison with 2019 is much more meaningful, so it’s brilliant to see substantial medium term growth. The relatively low drop compared to 2020 is great news, suggesting that those who played more last year appreciated the benefits of the game, in terms of physical, mental and social wellbeing.
“The results also mean that year-to-date growth remains up, 16.7% higher than 2020 – although closures through Q2 had an impact. At the end of last year, we expected to see a further boost in 2021 as an overall year and we are delighted to see that playing out so far.”
Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said: “It is encouraging to see that more rounds are being played in Great Britain now compared to the same period two years ago and this reflects a rising demand to play the sport when it can be enjoyed outdoors by golfers, who are experiencing the many health benefits it can provide. The opportunity is there for clubs and facilities to retain this heightened interest in playing the sport by ensuring that they provide a product that golfers can continue to enjoy with family and friends.”