Golf participation down…again

Each year the National Golf Foundation publishes the results from surveying 40,000 people to determine the health of the game. It’s a lot taking a patient’s temperature…not a diagnosis only a sign of the current situation.


Participation continues to be a problem. The data showed 25.7 million Americans (age 6+) played at least one round of golf in 2011 compared to 26.1 million in 2010, a shrinkage of about 400,000 golfers or 1.5%. Put another way, in 2010 9.2% of Americans over the age of 6 played at least one round of golf and in 2011 it was 9.0%

Not a shattering decline but certainly extension of a trend showing there are over 3 million fewer players today than five years ago. 

The patient may not be on life support but certainly isn’t up dancing either.


The NGF correctly points out golf is one of the most popular participation sports and that the rate of decline is 25% of what it was two years ago. Quoting from the press release, “We suspect this reduced net outflow is yet another sign that we are bouncing along the bottom of the trough and on the verge of a modest recovery.”

 A recovery, modest or not, would certainly be welcome. Here are some other interesting bits from the report.

Of the 25.7 million golfers who played in 2011:

By rounds:

6.8 million Avid golfers (25+ rounds annually and incl. in the Core number below)

14.4 million Core golfers (8+ rounds annually)

11.3 million Occasional golfers (fewer than 8 rounds annually)

By demographic:

2.4 million Junior golfers (age 6-17)

5.1 million adult Female golfers

5.4 million non-Caucasian (incl. Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American)

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