The National Golf Foundation (NGF), the only trade organization that works with every sector within the golf industry, has released its 2019 Golf Industry Report, a comprehensive state-of-the-industry overview.
The Golf Industry Report (GIR) compiles many of the game’s key data points in a single publication and is intended to provide the most holistic view of the business of golf and the health of the game within the U.S. to stakeholders and the media. The GIR includes the latest NGF data on golf participation, engagement, rounds-played, latent demand, golf course supply and development, retail supply, golf equipment sales, and golf’s reach.
Golf’s participation base remains stable, with an estimated 24.2 million people (ages 6+) who played golf on a course in 2018 — a slight increase from 23.8 million a year earlier. Almost as many people play off-course forms of the game, with 23 million hitting golf balls with clubs at golf-entertainment facilities like Topgolf and Drive Shack, indoor simulators and driving ranges. With 9.3 million people exclusively playing golf off-course, the game’s overall participant pool has increased 4% to 33.5 million.
There were 434 million rounds of golf played in 2018, a 4.8% year-over-year decline attributable in part to the third-wettest year on record nationally dating back to 1895 (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association).
Despite the negative weather impact on the nation’s top outdoor, pay-to-play participation sport, there are 14.7 million people who didn’t play golf last year but say they are “very interested” in playing golf on a course. This untapped demand helped contribute to the 2.6 million beginners who picked up the game in 2018.
The total U.S. golf course supply declined by 1.2%, with the opening of 12.5 new 18-hole equivalent golf courses and 198.5 course closures. Closures have outweighed new openings nationwide since 2006, an ongoing correction of supply and demand within the market that followed an unsustainable 20-year building boom during which more than 4,000 courses opened, boosting the U.S. supply by 44%. The U.S. remains the best-supplied golf market in the world with 14,613 facilities and 16,693 courses – more than 75% of which are open to all players, the highest public-to-private ratio in history.
Other 2018 highlights from the Golf Industry Report:
For further information and context on the 2019 Golf Industry Report, please visit The Q:
NGF members can download a copy of the full report at the organization’s new website:
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