Global Edition

Continued decline in US market

12.10am 12th April 2004 - Management Topics

Pellucid’s preliminary analysis of their 3rd annual proprietary consumer survey shows the golf consumer franchise decreased for the 2nd consecutive year by almost 1 million golfers. Since Pellucid started independently tracking golfers in 2001, the industry has gone from over 27 million golfers in 2001 to under 26 million golfers in 2003 representing a net loss of almost 2 million golfers across the 3-year period or a 6% decline.
Pellucid president Jim Koppenhaver said, “Our 2002 survey showing a decline of almost 1 million golfers vs. 2001 was met with scepticism by industry insiders who suggested that factors such as weather might have unduly influenced one year’s results. With a second consecutive decline of similar size it suggests that this is a trend vs. an aberration.”
Highlights of the trends being surfaced in this preliminary analysis of the consumer responses include:

  • The participation rate declined to below 9% of the US population

  • The actual number of golfers in 2003 declined by almost 1 million vs. 2002

  • Frequency also fell to an average of 22 rounds per golfer per year

  • Golfer and frequency declines drove a 7% consumer-reported rounds decline

  • The above facts combined to produce an 8% decline in Play Rate (rds/capita)

These facts spawn several hypotheses that the completion of the analysis will seek to prove or disprove:

  • Retention, not player development, remains Public Enemy #1 of golf

  • The industry’s loss of golfers is most probably coming from the lowest involvement group (casual golfers) as evidenced by the smaller % decline in frequency vs. golfers.

  • The much-touted “time crunch” macro trend could possibly be cutting across all involvement groups (Committeds, Involveds, Casuals) potentially lowering the frequency of Involved and Committed golfers and bouncing Casuals out of the franchise.

  • The post baby-boomer generations are participating/remaining in the game at a lower rate than their predecessors for some reason (inhibiting structure, cool factor etc.?).

  • Encouragingly, the baby-boomers initially appear to be a positive force holding their participation rate and increasing frequency as they age, producing at least one growth segment in consumer-reported rounds.

The findings by Pellucid Corp., an emerging US information and insight provider for the golf industry, will most probably be assailed by leading industry organizations and associations but they are consistent with their independent, fact-based approach.
Koppenhaver concluded, “We have a classic glass half-empty, glass half-full story here. Half empty is that it appears we‘ve actually lost close to 6 million golfers during this 3-year period. Half-full is the fact that we‘ve generated just over 4 million new golfers during the same period.”
Complete results of the analysis answering the above questions as well as changes in gender, generation, and involvement levels will be available by 15th May in the fee-based Golf Consumer Franchise Health report. Those interested in the report should contact Jim Koppenhaver (
Information on Pellucid’s other industry-leading work in Local Market Analysis and Customer Franchise Analysis can be obtained at


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