New data has shown that golf participation in Great Britain and Ireland remained strongly above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels in 2021.
Research led by The R&A together with England Golf, Golf Ireland, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf demonstrates how the sport is still thriving despite competing leisure activities becoming available again.
Two new participation reports show that 5.3 million on-course adult golfers – the second-highest number since monitoring began over 30 years ago – enjoyed playing on full length courses (nine or 18 holes) in Great Britain and Ireland in 2021.
This includes a marginal increase in Ireland and a slight reduction in Great Britain.
Golf enjoyed a significant boom during the pandemic due to its ability to be played safely and proven benefits in boosting mental and physical health. The latest data shows that participation in golf is still well above the rates in the years prior to COVID-19.
In Great Britain, the number of on-course adults began to gradually increase before COVID-19, rising from 2.5 million in 2017 to 3 million in 2019, before surging to a peak of 5.2 million in 2020. The latest figures show that 4.8 million golfers played in 2021.
With less restrictions on play in 2021, the new figures also reveal that avid golfers more than doubled, there was an increase in female golfers, and the use of driving ranges and par-3 courses remained high.
Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said: “It is extremely positive that the number of on-course adult golfers remained so strong in Great Britain and Ireland last year.
“The vast majority of lapsed or non-golfers who took up golf during the pandemic have continued to play, with the sport remaining very popular in the use of full-length courses, driving ranges and alternative golf venues in particular.
“Golfers are enjoying positive experiences of the sport, supported by a wide range of participation initiatives and communication around the benefits of the sport for physical and mental health. It is important to maintain this momentum and ensure golfers enjoy the sport at all levels.”