Golf participation in Great Britain and Northern Ireland rose in 2022 and remains well up on pre-pandemic levels.
The R&A conducted research into the figures in collaboration with England Golf, Golf Ireland, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf and found that there were 5.6 million adult golfers playing on full-length courses of nine or 18 holes in 2022. That’s the second-highest number since monitoring began over 30 years ago. It also represents a 265,000 increase on the 2021 figure of 5.3 million.
The record year came during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020, when there were 5.7 million on-course adult golfers taking advantage of a pursuit that allowed social distancing while offering health benefits. Even though that figure was down slightly in 2022, it is still well above the level before the pandemic, which stood at 3.7 million on-course adult golfers in 2019. The latest figures amount to a rise of more than 50% on that year.
There was more good news, too, with an increase in female participation. The women’s game has arguably never had a higher profile and that is reflected in the news that 20% of adult on-course golfers in 2022 were female, up from 15% in 2019.
Chief Development Officer at The R&A Phil Anderton explained the figures prove that players who took up the game during the pandemic have continued to enjoy the pursuit. He said: “It is very positive to see the number of on-course adult golfers grow in Great Britain and Ireland last year. The sport remains very popular on full-length courses as large numbers of lapsed or non-golfers who took up the sport during the pandemic continue to enjoy playing.”
As well as the pandemic, Anderton also pointed out the positive effect of participation initiatives in the encouraging figures. That included Golf is Good, which was launched by the R&A and Golf Wales last year to promote the health and wellbeing benefits of golf. He said: “The growth has been aided by the important work of golf bodies to drive participation initiatives and increase awareness of the benefits of the sport for physical and mental health, including our pilot health campaign in Wales last year.”
Anderton also encouraged the good work to continue into the future despite current economic hardships. He said: “There remains significant interest in golf and while we recognise that there are economic challenges due to cost of living pressures, it is important for everyone involved to do their best to keep existing golfers…
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