Why are golf clubs struggling to attract a new audience?

According to recent reports, golf might have an image problem. Last year, Radio 4 reported that participation in the sport had decreased by about 27 per cent in the previous ten years.

Positively though, statistics also showed that the number of rounds played is increasing. Which suggests that people who play golf, are falling more and more in love with the sport.

But it also suggests that golf is struggling to attract a new audience.

In years gone by, golf was seen as a game for retired men, but the emergence of media friendly superstars like Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and for a time, Tiger Woods, seemed to put an end to that.

But with Muirfield golf club having to abandon their male-only membership policy only last year, it still seems as if golf might appear as closed rank.

Golf is still the 5th most played sport in the country. But the four sports above it in the table, swimming, athletics, football and cycling, all seem to be bringing through a new, younger and more diverse playing population. Anecdotally, the golf courses of the UK are still dominated by the 30-60 year old white male.

Of course there are a number of factors that the sport can’t control.

Golf will always be a more expensive game than football and athletics, for instance. In those sports, all you need is a ball, your health and a patch of grass. In golf, you have to consider the cost of clubs and upkeep of the course.

There are definitely some barriers to participation that golf can only blame itself for. Applications to join many clubs are still via referral only, which stops anyone outside of the golfing community from taking part.

Not enough clubs are working to increase the diversity of their membership. How much representation of females or ethnic minorities are there in key positions at golf clubs?

How many clubs are actively seeking memberships from poorer communities by offering free trials and reduced/sponsored subscription fees?

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you are a golf club owner or a keen player.

We’d love for you to get in touch and let us know whether you think your club is doing enough to attract new audiences. We’ll put together a new article based on the responses.

 

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spcbrass/4752494154/

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Sam Humphrey

Sam Humphrey