Global Edition

Golf’s ‘missing millions’

12.24am 13th December 2002 - Management Topics

More people who play golf every month are not members of a golf club, according to research out today. There are currently 1.34 million golf club members in the UK and Ireland and the latest findings indicate that four times as many golfers play at least once a month on a’pay and play’ basis – with over half admitting they would consider joining a club in the future.

This suggests there could be over 5 million regular golfers who are not members of golf clubs and reflects the current interest in the game which is at its highest levels following Europe’s win over the US in September’s Ryder Cup.

The report, commissioned by market analyst Mintel to mark its new partnership in golf with The Professional Golfers’ Association has also uncovered a significant untapped demand for the game.

Research questioning over 4,000 adults in the UK finds that intriguingly, given the widespread perception that most golfers are of mature years, the majority of regular non-club players were predominately male and aged between 25 and 34. Half of the people admitting they would like to play golf more often were aged between 25 and 44.

PGA chief executive Sandy Jones said, “There are more than 3,000 golf clubs in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with 1.34 million members, so it was certainly surprising to discover that the number of regular non-club players is four times higher than the total number of golf club members.

“The high percentage of Internet users and readers of popular tabloids amongst the key age groups will help dispel one of the myths about golf being an elitist game. The’Tiger’ effect has significantly increased awareness and has helped to raise the profile of the game.”

Mintel’s new partnership with the PGA will result in more consumer research into golf and consequently assist the PGA with tuition and coaching aspects of the game with professional golfers.

Leisure consultant, Mark Brechin from Mintel said, “In developing the definitive survey into golf and golfers it seemed eminently appropriate to work in partnership with the PGA. Data on the development of the game is an essential ingredient for course developers and equipment, clothing and footwear manufacturers so being able to tap into the club professional network will greatly enhance the question areas and sample size in the future.”

Sandy Jones said the catalyst for the research was to ensure that tomorrow’s generations of players were being attracted to the game. “Golf is visibly successful as a global sport, where it has become a multi-billion pound industry, and the best players are international superstars,” he said. “However, we recognised the dangers of complacency, which is why we are now working with Mintel and the BMRB to establish an objective overview.”

One of the most surprising facts to emerge was the high percentage of women who played golf on holiday but not when back at home.

Of those regular golfers, 11% are women but the figure for those who played only whilst on holiday was three times that level.

Another unexpected finding was that in the south of England, the percentage of people saying they were interested in playing golf was appreciably greater than those who did.

The report underlines the importance and role of the municipal and pay-and-play courses and highlights opportunities for private and proprietary membership clubs to capitalise on casual green fee income.

The demand for casual golf facilities therefore opens additional revenue opportunities for mainstream golf clubs and schemes such as a tiered structure for green fees with reduced rates at off-peak times for example would likely be of interest to non-club golfers.


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