According to new statistics published by leading sports research company Sporting Insights, golf participation in Great Britain has held firm in 2023.
Despite getting off to a slow start, the number of rounds played at golf courses in Great Britain has remained consistently clear of pre-pandemic numbers that were registered in 2019.
With every man, woman and child seemingly keen to get out on the course when lockdown restrictions were lifted in 2020, golf saw a massive boom in participation, and thankfully for the health of the sport and courses in GB, those positive numbers haven't dropped as many predicted they might.
In September of 2023, the number of rounds played was up 10% against 2022 and against 2019, it was up by a staggering 55%.
Looking at the data above, you can see that 2023 has consistently outperformed 2019 in terms of rounds played, indicating that the boom we saw was no flash-in-the-pan situation but instead a pivotal turning point for the game and one which has benefitted the entire industry.
That consistent growth in participation has also been reflected in golf viewing figures in 2023, with Sky Sports having revealed that the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Country Club was the most-watched version of the historic event in the broadcaster's history.
Across the three days, Sky Sports averaged 785k viewers per day, which was a 38% increase on 2021 and a 25% increase on 2018. The historic event also saw a noticeable uptick in younger fans watching, with 14% more under 35s tuning in than in 2021.
Credit for participation retention should also be given to the sports governing bodies who have introduced initiatives like iGolf, Openplay and Flexigolf for independent golfers in England, Scotland and Wales.
The initiatives have opened up pathways for non-members and newer golfers to track improvement and access competitive golf, which has clearly incentivised a significant number of golfers to stick with the game.
2022 figures from England Golf showed that only 6% of iGolf subscribers had previously been golf club members, while the average age of the scheme users was younger than that of golf club members.
All things considered, golf in Great Britain is in one of the strongest positions it's been in for some time, and it doesn't look like it's slowing down any time soon.