Our research demonstrates that the number of registered golfers showed a slight increase, by 2% (+82,584 players), while the supply of golf courses declined by 28 courses (24 openings and 52 closures). Fortysix per cent of European countries surveyed experienced a growth in participation rates, 35% showed stability and in 19% of the countries surveyed demand declined. Our research further shows that men make up 67% of the total registered golfers across Europe in 2016, and the proportion of European population who actively played golf (0.9%) has not changed since 2015.
As we have identified a moderate level of growth in 2016, it is important to reflect upon various creditable golf development initiatives, which have been launched in previous years with the aim of reaching new audiences and retaining existing golfers across Europe. These initiatives and the hard work of many other golf industry stakeholders, provide evidence for a consciously optimistic outlook for the game’s development. Certain markets have demonstrated exemplary performance and highlighted the opportunities a proactive and coordinated approach can achieve.
A number of national golf associations and industry players are working to stimulate current and future clientele with initiatives that embrace inclusivity, equality and an openness to change. This is helping golf as a sport to address and take on the challenge of falling participation numbers and in some cases to develop green shoots of growth. The industry-wide focused effort to embrace junior and female participation, innovate formats of play in both the professional and amateur game, along with a broader acceptance that modern day life is influencing the sport across multiple levels, is slowly helping to swing the participation curve around and into a positive direction.