The R&A today announced new global participation figures that show an additional ten million adult golfers are playing the sport worldwide since 2016.
According to new research undertaken by the governing body and produced by Sporting Insights, there are now 39.6 million on-course golfers (9 and 18 hole) in R&A affiliated markets.
The research figures indicate that the growth trend began before the onset of Covid-19 and continued during the pandemic – up 34% from 29.6 million on-course golfers in 2016. The sport has since continued to increase in popularity post-pandemic, up 15% from 34.5 million on-course players in 2020.
The data is provided in a new Global Golf Participation Report, which, for the first time, collectively measures The R&A’s affiliated markets in Asia, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania.
The report also highlights that 61.2 million adults (outside the USA and Mexico) engage with the sport in some format, which is the first time an estimate has been made beyond on-course activity to include alternative-only formats, such as par-3 golf, indoor simulator golf and driving range use.
Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said, “Golf’s popularity has surged in recent years, which is reflected in a notable increase in the number of people playing the sport in both traditional on-course and alternative formats.
“It is significant that ten million more golfers are playing on the course since 2016, but it is also important that millions of others are engaged in golf through many other alternative formats, such as driving ranges, which are so vital to the growth of the sport.
“It also underlines why effective and impactful participation programmes are important for encouraging more people into the sport and retaining them in greater numbers. We are working closely with our affiliated national federations and stakeholders within golf to sustain this momentum. We thank them for their efforts as we aim to ensure that golf is thriving for years to come.”
The top five on-course adult golfer markets overall in 2023 are in Japan (8.1 million), Canada (5.6 million), Republic of Korea (5.4 million), England (3.4 million) and Germany (2.1 million).
Asia is the leading region for people engaging with golf among R&A affiliated regions, with total adult engagement of 22.5 million. Europe is next highest with 21.1 million adult engagement.
Women make up almost a quarter of adult registered golfers in R&A affiliated markets worldwide, demonstrating the positive impact of initiatives focused on promoting greater diversity and inclusivity in golf.
The R&A is continuing its commitment to invest £200 million over ten years in developing golf, including sustained work to encourage participation by promoting the health benefits of the sport through a global campaign.
View The R&A’s Global Golf Participation Report here.
The Global Golf Participation Report and European Golf Participation Report – available here – were produced for The R&A by Sporting Insights.