The pandemic helped grow the game of golf in Great Britain, suggests research

The effects of the pandemic helped grow the game of golf in Great Britain, according to research conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS).

The research shows an increase in golfers from 3 million in 2019, to a peak of 5.2 million in 2020, with amateur golfers attributing this growth to Covid-19.

Neil Pearson, 56, who plays at Matfen Hall, said: “When lockdown restrictions were relaxed, I needed to do some more exercise and the courses were open which gave me a good excuse to get out of the house and get some fresh air whilst socialising.”

Numbers show a steady increase between 2017 and 2019, before a huge jump was seen in 2020. 

The data from SMS shows that golf participation is still above the rates in the years prior to the lockdowns. 

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (The R&A) chief development officer, Phil Anderton, responded to the SMS data: “The vast majority of lapsed or non-golfers who took up golf during the pandemic have continued to play.

“It is extremely positive that the number of on-course adult golfers remained so strong in Great Britain and Ireland last year.”

Further research showed an increase in female participation in golf.

The 2021 Great Britain golf participation report shows that 34 percent of full course users are female.

Chart showing full course user breakdown by gender

Lorna Woodhouse, 42, of Westerhope Golf Club, said: “Having things like Sky Sports demonstrating Georgia Hall’s success and showing the women’s tour is only going to help grow the women’s game. 

“It used to only show men’s golf, but now young girls can watch women competing at the top level as well.”

The rise in active golfers has resulted in a surge of golfers buying memberships. 

A spokesperson from Surbiton Golf Club said: “Since the Covid related restrictions were lifted Surbiton Golf Club saw an increase in participation levels across the golfing spectrum, both in terms of membership enquiries and guest requests.

“The club reached its capacity of member numbers very quickly.”

England Golf revealed that as of February 2022, there was an increase of 13.9% in players at affiliated clubs from the previous year. 

Strawberry Hill Golf Club witnessed their own boom in memberships since the pandemic, which has since been maintained.

Peter Mutton, club manager at Strawberry Hill GC said: “We expected membership to gradually ‘tail off’ but this has been the reverse – golf is still booming.”

Jeremy Tomlinson, Golf England’s chief executive, said these numbers show people falling in love with the game or rekindling their love of the sport.

The 2021 European Participation Report from the European Golf Association and The R&A discovered England had the most registered golfers in Europe with 692,500 active players.

The 2021 European Participation Report showed an increase of registered golfers in the UK and Ireland between 2020 and 2021

The same report showed an increase in registered golfers across the devolved nations and Ireland.

Wales had 43,408 registered golfers in 2020 but witnessed a jump to 47,852 in 2021.

Scotland reported 192,724 people are registered, up from 179,832 in 2020. 

Finally, Ireland registered 202,750 golfers in 2021, an increase of more than 18,000 from the previous year.

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