Golf Market & Demographics 2016

February 26, 2018

Golf Market & Demographics 2016

The number of golfers dropped according to the National Golf Foundation's annual report.  Bad News? Not really, says the NGF.  A deeper broader view of the reported numbers actually says the game might be experiencing a renewed vigor, including some recording breaking indicators including Number of Beginners, Increasing Interest, and New Measures of Engagement and Off-Course Participation.


26 millions golfers and over 60 million worldwide. But in the US, our average age is 54, makes over $95,000 (Avg. Household Income) and 27% make over $125,000.  Annual Spend is roughly $2776 and 90% regularly use the internet. 

Most golfers play fewer than 10 times a year (44% of them, roughly 12.8 million golfers  account for just 6% of the rounds played annually.)  Conversely, avid golfers make up just 26% (6.8 million ) of all players but they play 76% of all rounds and on average plays 56 rounds per year.


10.8% CAGR for Beginner golfers who played golf on a Golf Course for the First Time) 


14.9% CAGR for Non-Golfers Very Interested in Playing Golf Now

Golfer Engagement
For most businesses that make a living in golf, the increases in latent demand and new trials are encouraging, but their most important segment remains the “engaged” group – committed golfers who enjoy the on-course game and are most likely to continue playing. While the total number of participants playing traditional green-grass golf has seen a gradual decline in recent years, the segment of engaged golfers measuring 20.1 million now represents 85% of those who play. It’s the highest percentage of committed golfers in the U.S. since the NGF started the measurement in 2011 and the first increase in four years.

When the NGF began its annual golf participation research in 1986, it defined a golf participant as a person over the age of 6 who played golf on a golf course at least once in the previous year. Back then, metal spikes and persimmon woods prevailed, golf simulators were just being introduced, and the idea of embedding RFID chips in golf balls was inconceivable. At the time, “playing golf” meant a round of golf at a golf course. Not anymore.

“I really applaud the NGF for looking at the broader picture of golf and the nearly 100 million people that consumed our great game – in many different forms – in 2016,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, who is also the chairman of the World Golf Foundation. “It’s hard not to be excited about key growth drivers such as beginning golfers, latent demand/interest and off-course participation – all of which were at record levels. As our game evolves and the definition of ‘playing golf’ expands, it’s important for our industry to track those evolutions and
fully embrace all aspects of consumers that are part of golf’s ultimate impact.”

2016 NGF Study in a nutshell.

  • The number of beginning golfers grew to 2.5 million, a nearly 14-percent increase over 2015. That number is an all-time high, breaking the previous mark of 2.4 million set in 2000, when Woods was at rapid ascent.

  • The number of “committed golfers” grew, as well. Committed golfers combines those who call golf either their favorite activity or one of several recreational pursuits. According to the NGF, the committed golfer number rose to 20.1 million golfers, the first year-over-year increase in five years.

  • Driven by the success of driving range/entertainment facilities (most notably Topgolf) and increased simulator use, the number of off-course golf participants grew to more than 20 million, an 11-percent increase. Of those, 8.2 million never played on a golf course. When added to the traditional golf participation number, the overall count of those hitting a golf ball with a golf club reached 32 million. That figure is nearly 3-percent higher than last year’s 31.1 million.

  • Latent demand for golf from aspiring golfers also was on the rise. According to the NGF, non-golfers interested in playing golf right now was 12.8 million, up from 11.9 million last year and double what it was five years ago. The overall number who say they are at least somewhat interested in taking up golf was 40.6 million, and well over a third of that number (15.2 million) were millenials (18- to 34-year-olds), which made up the largest single age group of non-golfers who expressed interest in playing golf.

  • Junior golf stayed steady at 2.9 million, but this group is becoming more diverse. Likely driven by programs such as The First Tee, the LPGA/USGA Girls Golf and the PGA Junior League Golf, the number of females in junior golf now is a third of the total number, nearly double of what it was in 1995. More than a quarter of all junior golfers are non-Caucasian, quadruple what it was two decades ago.

  •  Full Article is here.2016 Golf Participation in the U.S. with Record Number of Beginners, Increasing Interest, and New Measures of Engagement and Off-Course Participation