In 2013, there was the smallest number of people playing golf in the UK for more than ten years. Overall participation in the sport has dropped to under 3.5 million over the last decade, and figures from the Sports Marketing Surveys Inc Golf Participation report show that almost 150,000 golfers were lost to the sport in Britain last year alone.
Around 156,000 golfers who played less than a dozen times each year are thought to be responsible for a large proportion of the drop. 2012’s weather and the recent recession have been blamed for many casual golfers dropping out of the game.
There are signs that the infrequent golfers are gradually returning to the game, but more still needs to be done to encourage people to pick up their clubs once again. The golfing industry is being urged to do more to make the game more accessible, and competitions are an effective way of doing this. An increase in interaction is needed along with an incentive, which some healthy competition can achieve.
Many enthusiasts believe that it is also important to target the younger generation in order to encourage an interest that will span the rest of their lives. Clubs are being encouraged to hold more junior competitions. The minimal cost of a few golf trophies is a small price to pay for a lifetime of support for the sport.
The USA is also mirroring Britain’s golfing trends, losing around five million players over the last ten years. Figures from the National Golf Federation (NGF) also show that the numbers of 18-to-34-year-olds starting to play has fallen by 30 per cent over the last two decades. NGF spokesman Greg Nathan believes that golf needs to be promoted more as a vibrant and fun sport, something that could be achieved through more promotions, offers and competitions. The cost of a discounted round or a couple of golf trophies is a worthwhile investment if it encourages more youngsters to form an interest.
These ideas are in line with suggestions made in a consumer behaviour study in Canada by the National Allied Golf Association. This concluded that the golfing industry must try new ways to demonstrate that the game is challenging but winnable, social, enjoyable, and inspiring.
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