Number of golfers can be 'doubled'

Report highlights ways to increase participation numbers in golf

A New report, commissioned by Syngenta, has revealed that the number of people playing golf in the UK could be doubled if clubs and courses were friendlier, encouraged families and offered greater flexibility.

The Growing Golf in the UK report was undertaken by independent market research company GfK, who canvassed the opinion of more than 3,500 UK residents, including 2,145 non-golfers and 1,477 golfers. It showed a huge latent demand for golf in the UK with an estimated 8.5 million people interested in taking up the sport.

Hamish Grey, chief executive of the Scottish Golf Union, told Scottish Club Golfer they are already working with clubs on some aspects: “There are some really good ideas in the survey, many of which we’re already working with clubs around. But we don’t think it’s a quick fix.” 

Of the non-golfers interviewed, 65% said they were looking for a new or additional sport hobby with 55% saying they had enough time for golf. The demand is there and several initiatives were mentioned that would encourage non-golfers to take up the sport.

These included putting on a free golf morning, giving easy access to affordable lessons, relaxing the dress code or giving a two-month trial period.

Golf clubs also face a challenge to maintain their existing customer base with up to 50% feeling intimidated by club rules and regulations, with 25% recalling no experience of being treated like a valued customer. Almost two-thirds said they would consider leaving their club or regular course.

Other findings included the potential for more women and family golfers with female golfers preferring to participate with family and friends. They also play a key role in getting children into the game.

As well as the off-course factors, what happens on the course also proved to be important with golfers wanting smooth rolling greens, courses with visual appeal, as well as well-conditioned fairways and rough that is not too thick so golf balls can be found.

Simon Elsworth, Syngenta head of turf and Landscape EAME, said: “Clearly, there is a significant opportunity here for golf to both retain existing players and to attract many new people into a sport that offers health and social benefits.

“What we’ve found is that there is a very significant latent demand for golf that could be realised if clubs and courses were able to promote themselves in a friendlier, flexible and family-orientated way. Ultimately, people want to relax, be treated as a valued customer, share time with friends and family and enjoy a healthy sport in an appealing outdoor environment.

“Over the next six months, we will be sharing more insights from the report and look forward to engaging with partners to find solutions focused on the long-term sustainability of golf.”

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