The days when the archetypical British golfer was a retired army officer with a caddy batman, handlebar moustache and plus-fours are long gone, writes Dave Bowers..
For a long time golf has been living in the shadow of its own stereotype, with the outside world sneering at car parks full of bank managers’ ‘beemers’. But it is definitely not the elitist pastime it once was, and in the 21st century, the average golfer is more likely to be an artisan than an aristocrat, according to a survey by HowDidiDo, Europe’s largest golfing community.
It revealed that almost a third of golf club members in employment (32.8 per cent) work in either a manual industry or the emergency services, while that figures jumps to more than 40 per cent if one includes clerical and ‘other non-management’ positions. This contrasts with just eight per cent of the more ‘traditional’ club members who own their own business or occupy a role as managing director or chairman.
With a membership of more than 300,000, and a database of handicaps, results and scores for in excess of 1,200,000 men and women, HowDidiDo provided an ideal indicative, cross-sectional group for information on golf club members and Sports Marketing Surveys Inc, a leading sports research agency, carried out a survey of its members during the summer.
- Of those responding, 44 per cent of members earn less than £40,000pa, with just two per cent involved in the controversial 50 per cent higher-rate income tax threshold over £150,000pa.
- There is a north-south divide when it comes to the number of golfers with 46 per cent residing in the north andScotland, while just 17 per cent are based in the commuter heartland of the south-east andLondon, traditionally considered the heartland of the archetypical golf club member.
- However, there is no surprise when it comes to the gender gap, with a massive 86 per cent of responding golfers ticking ‘male’.
- The vast majority of members (83 per cent) own their own home with more than a third (37 per cent) not having a mortgage.
- Car ownership also suggests a sea-change in the average golf member’s demographic with 24 per cent owning either a Ford or Vauxhall. Meanwhile, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Audi and Porsche combined accounted only for 19 per cent of the cars owned.
- Departing further still from the game’s staid image, the modern golfer is also technically ‘savvy’ with only 18 per cent saying they had no interest in computing. Internet usage is also high, with 80 per cent using it to check out the latest sports news at least once a week, 53 per cent for banking, and 59 per cent for checking out the latest golf products. More than half of the members (53 per cent) use it daily to check out sports news with 45 per cent turning to the net daily for their general news fix.
- Social networking is also popular, with 49 per cent using the internet weekly for that purpose, with 46 per of those being regular Facebook users.
- Mobile phone usage is high with 96 per cent in possession; 41 per cent own a ‘smartphone’; 58 per cent of respondents own a GPS unit of some sort; and 86 per cent possess a digital camera.
HowDidiDo’s managing director, Barry Dyett, said: “All our members are members at golf clubs up and down theUKandIrelandand it seems clear that the ‘average’ club golfer has changed significantly over the last 50 or so years.
“Golf club membership is no longer seen as the preserve of the rich and well-to-do. It is popular among all walks of life and the results of our survey demonstrate that perfectly. We have a diverse, technologically aware membership which, I believe, is representative of golf as a whole and great news for the future of the game.”
Nearly 2,000 golf clubs currently use the HowDidiDo site. The service is free and welcomes new members daily.
Registration to HowDidiDo is required to check handicap lists or competition results, but it remains a free service to any golf club whose administrators use CLUB2000 software from Club Systems International.