The staggering numbers behind golf’s pandemic boom

Surveys carried out by Great Britain and Ireland's leading governing bodies - and led by the R&A - have shown the impact Covid had on our game... We all know golf's pandemic surge meant our courses were busier – now the huge scale of it has been revealed by the R&A. A staggering 2.3 million extra golfers got on course in Great Britain & Ireland last year, with the average age of participants decreasing by five years. More women are playing golf and the sport played a huge role in helping people through the impact of lockdown and Covid-19. The research was led by the governing body, together with England Golf, Golf Ireland, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf, and two reports were produced by Sports Marketing Surveys. Their key findings, for Great Britain, included: Total adult golfers on a full-length course (nine or 18 hole) increased significantly by 2.1 million players to 5.2 million – the highest figure recorded this century Of these golfers, 36% identified as returning or new golfers – with 16% of players starting or trying golf for the first time because of the pandemic The average age of golfers fell by five years to 41, with the majority of new golfers aged under 55 25% of female golfers were new to the sport – and tried it for the first time because of the pandemic Driving range use increased from 2.3 million to 4.3 million players Golfers who only used par-3 courses more than doubled, and those who only played on pitch and putt courses more than tripled Ireland saw similar success with the number of on course golfers on a full length course more than doubling from 219,000 to 540,000, and a third of adult golfers trying the sport for the first time being under 25. Phil Anderton, the R&A’s chief development officer, said: “We have seen a real surge in the number of golfers in Great Britain and Ireland playing the sport and this is reflected by the high demand for tee times and clubs reporting a strong interest in membership last year. “Golf has shown that it can provide significant health benefits and this has been important for many golfers during these very challenging times. It is vital that golf seizes the opportunity to maintain this heightened interest by offering new and returning golfers compelling reasons to stay within the sport and enjoy it with friends and family.” Turning to the effects of Covid and lockdown on golfers, the reports revealed that playing golf had resulted in a significantly positive impact on their mental and physical health. Among avid and regular golfers, nearly a third said they had experienced some negative impact on their feelings of loneliness or isolation as a result of the pandemic. Of those, 79 per cent said playing golf had a positive impact. For lapsed and returning golfers, getting the clubs back out had a marked effect. Of the 44 per cent who said they'd experienced a negative impact...
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