A game that originated in the 15th century, shows no signs of dying or disappearing. Golf is played by young and old, and there are more people playing the sport today, than ever before.
In fact, the trend over the past fews years has remained steady with a slight increase in the last 2 years.
The NGF National Golf Foundation recorded that in 2019 over a six year period more than 2 million beginners have been playing the game. By comparison, there were only 1.5 million in 2011.
In 2010 at the height of Tiger Woods popularity, over 2.4 million people were recorded playing golf.
Like with any sport there can be high’s and low’s in it’s popularity. Similarly, tennis for many years has been very popular, with the likes of Federer, Nadal, Murray & Djokovic dominating the sport. However, as these stars begin to fade, and no new stars come through the rankings, then tennis could well take a dip in popularity.
Tiger Woods dominance of golf, put the game on the front as well as the back pages of the media, giving the sport high exposure.
As a kid, I remember watching the great Jack Nicklaus and being inspired to go out and replicate his shots. Great players have been inspiring for each generation, and this helps keep the sport alive.
What reasons could cause golf to decline?
There are some negatives that stop the sport from becoming even more popular. The cost of equipment, green fees, and also membership fees, can deter people from taking up the sport.
The state of the economy will also affect the number of people playing. In a downturn, people cut back on non essentials, and playing golf can be costly to play unlike other sports.
The cost of running a golf club is also expensive, and if they close there could be fewer places to play, causing a decline in people taking up the sport.
Golf is also viewed as a very middle class sport which can put off people from taking up the sport.
Negatives to playing golf
- Cost of equipment
- Green Fees
- Membership fees
- Takes 4+ hours to play a round
- Needs lots of practice
- Difficult game to play
- Viewed as a middle class sport
Golf is not an easy sport to master, there are so many variables you have to consider when playing, no two shots are the same. One minute you could be chipping out of the long grass the next you’re behind a tree, trying to work out how to get back onto the fairway.
Some golfers give up the sport thinking they won’t get any improve, and this can lead to them becoming frustrated, and finding another sport which is easier to play.
Another reason golf could go into decline is that nowadays children exercise less, and spend more time on their phones and computers. Taking up a sport like golf can be something that many kids would prefer to play on their phones, rather than out in the real world.
To help golf continue to be popular, parents need to encourage their children to get outside and experience golf, and reap the benefits the sport can give them.
With our busy lives in a modern world, golf could be classed as a luxury. Practicing and playing golf can take a big slice out of our busy schedules. 4-5 hours playing a round and then a few hours a week spent at the driving range, is going to impact on our spare time.
TV plays another important role in keeping people interested in golf. Over the years it’s become increasingly difficult to watch live sport on TV unless you paid for sport channels. This could stop younger people from poorer backgrounds being exposed to golf.
Is golf becoming more popular?
With younger players like Rickie Fowler, Jordan Speith, and Rory Mcllory climbing the leaderboards, the new generation of new younger stars will help keep golf popular with millennials.
Women’s golf has also increased interest in the sport, with a greater number of females taking up golf in recent years.
When younger players come through the ranks in any sport they help promote it to a younger generation. Brands like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour also jump on board, and sign up younger players to promote their clothing, golf equipment etc. to new fans.
The fact is millennials are the fastest growing group taking up golf. Topgolf is a company that has seen an opportunity to offer millennials to pick up a golf club and experience golf, and have some fun.
Using micro-chipped balls, customers score points by hitting targets at a driving range, at the same time they can enjoy an environment that offers food, drink and music.
The benefits of playing golf
- Socialising with friends
- Playing alone or with others
- No age limit
- Mental Well-Being
- Playing with golfers of different abilities (handicap system)
Golf has many benefits for any age, and can be enjoyed with friends and family. Being outside in the fresh air and enjoying the countryside can also be beneficial to your state of mind, and physical fitness.
Playing the average 18 hole golf course can burn off over 1,500 calories, even more on an undulating course. Even if you choose to take a golf cart or only play nine holes, you’re still going to burn off some calories, and it’s much more enjoyable, than sweating it out in a gym.
Golf, unlike tennis, soccer, football or baseball is a low impact sport. This makes it a great activity for anyone who has joint problems. This is also why golf is one of the few sport you can play from 5 to 85 years old.
Why do so many business men and women play golf? For a business person or someone with a high stressed job, golf has many benefits including reducing anxiety, improving your mood, and mental well-being.
In Sweden a study found that golfers had a 40% lower death rate, which compares to an increased life expectancy of 5 years.
Golf is not dying, it’s been steady through its long history with a flow of new players coming into and enjoying the sport. For golf to keep it’s popularity however, it’s important that new younger players emerge through the ranks to keep fans excited, and there’re many opportunities for younger people to experience playing golf in all it’s forms, from mini golf to playing on an 18 hole course, and being inspired by watching their favourites on TV.