New figures on the number of rounds played of golf played in Great Britain show impressive medium term growth, even despite an expected drop compared to Q3 2020, against which 2021 rounds fell 7%. The South, which recorded a particularly extraordinary performance in 2020, experienced the greatest drop in 2021.
Following national lockdowns and course closures, Q3 2020 was a time of unprecedented appetite for golf. Combine that with mass working from home, the closure of other leisure activities and ongoing nervousness about COVID infection, and it is easy to see how conditions contributed to what was a record performance in the 20 year history of the Rounds Played Monitor. That 2021 is outpacing 2019 while hanging within touching distance of 2020 gives grounds for optimism. Even as other leisure activities reopen and golfers have more alternative ways to spend their leisure time and money, golf remains top of many people’s lists.
SMS Director Richard Payne, who coordinates the company’s golf research, emphasised the point: “It isn’t surprising at all that we have seen a decline against 2020, which was an anomaly in lots of ways. What was always going to be the key this year was the proportion of those new players and new rounds golf managed to retain. In absolute terms, the comparison with 2019 is much more meaningful, so it’s brilliant to see substantial medium term growth. The relatively low drop compared to 2020 is great news, suggesting that those who played more last year appreciated the benefits of the game, in terms of physical, mental and social wellbeing. The results also mean that year to date growth remains up, 16.7% higher than 2020 – although closures through Q2 had an impact. At the end of last year, we expected to see a further boost in 2021 as an overall year and we are delighted to see that playing out so far.”
Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said, “It is encouraging to see that more rounds are being played in Great Britain now compared to the same period two years ago and this reflects a rising demand to play the sport when it can be enjoyed outdoors by golfers, who are experiencing the many health benefits it can provide. The opportunity is there for clubs and facilities to retain this heightened interest in playing the sport by ensuring that they provide a product that golfers can continue to enjoy with family and friends.”
Sports Marketing Surveys is the leading provider of actionable, robust and independent sports and leisure research. It has operated the Rounds Played Monitor in Great Britain for 20 years, and supports businesses across the sporting landscape to help them understand the players, fans, events and stakeholders who matter.