Fewer women are playing golf now, but those who play are spending more money for their golf equipment. That is one of several conclusions drawn from an examination of key market research data published by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA).
NSGA compared 1999 sports participation and consumer purchases data with the same data for 1994. While the total number of golfers, age seven and older, grew from 24.6 million in 1994 to 27.0 million in 1999, the number of women golfers declined from 5.9 million in 1994 to 5.6 million last year.
During the five-year span, however, women spent a greater percentage of dollars on clubs in sets and utility clubs. Women almost doubled their spending on sets of clubs in 1999 ($461.2 million) versus 1994 ($235.5 million). Women also spent more on utility clubs, $74.4 million in 1999 versus $54.4 million in 1994.
“The myth that more women are playing golf is just that, a myth,” said NSGA Vice President of Information & Research Thomas B. Doyle. “However, those women who are playing golf are much more serious about the sport, as their increased spending indicates.”
NSGA’s research also suggests that the “Tiger Woods effect” is starting to show, as more youngsters are taking up the sport. Participation among younger golfers (ages 7-17) has increased from 2.6 million in 1994 to 3.7 million in 1999, an increase of 42%. Purchases of clubs in sets by younger golfers rose from $45.3 million in 1994 to $212.3 million in 1999, a 369% increase.
“The last five years have been very good for golf,” Doyle said. “Between 1994 and 1999, the number of golf participants grew nearly 10%, and consumer purchases of golf equipment rose by 30%.”
Current NSGA research data also showed the following:
Nearly half of all “utility clubs,” more than a third of all sets of clubs and golf bags, and nearly a third of all golf balls are purchased by golfers with an income of $75,000 or more.
In 1999, men accounted for 74.8% of the purchases of sets of clubs, 85.2% of the utility club purchases, 91.6% of the golf ball purchases and 80.2% of golf bag purchases.
More than a quarter of all golfers (25.3%) fell into the 45-64 age group last year. They accounted for 29% or more of the purchases in four major categories: sets of clubs (29.8%); utility clubs (31.9%); balls (40.2%); and bags (30.3%).
“Golf equipment has always been considered among the most expensive,” Doyle said. “Traditionally, as the earning power of golfers increases, they purchase more expensive equipment, especially those who play frequently or join private clubs.”
“The Sporting Goods Market in 2000” is available for $175 for members of the Association; for non-members, the cost is $250.