London, England: Golf participation in Great Britain finally stabilised in 2014, just above the 3.3 million mark, offering hope to the golf industry after a decade of decay.
The findings have been revealed by leading sports research company SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC (SMS INC) in the company’s latest investigation into the British golfer and their playing habits, a review which has been run annually since the mid-1990s.
This succeeds news that 2014 saw an increase in the number of rounds played by 3.5% compared to 2013 (SMS INC. 2014 GB Rounds Played Monitor) following a warm and dry summer, without any major United Kingdom-based major sporting events.
A local and victorious Ryder Cup in Scotland – with good weather around it – will have boosted interest and play frequency.
Further good news from additional SMS INC intelligence confirms that equipment sales in Great Britain have levelled across most categories in terms of volume and value, suggesting the ‘downturn’ is over.
Although golf participation remains at its lowest level for over a decade, SMS INC’s study signposts clear progression and opportunities for the sport to grow.
For the second consecutive year female participation has risen, as has the number of ‘avid’ golfers (who play at least once a week on average). It is this group of golfers who define and guide the sport, so the industry should be buoyed by the additional 53,000 players whose play frequency brought them into this dedicated category in 2014.
As per the 2013 statistics, a cause for concern is the number of ‘infrequent’ golfers, who play less than 12 times a year, which is at its lowest on record in this millennium (1,786,000).
Time is a major factor influencing player numbers, and may be the significant reason behind the decline in infrequent golfers.
Richard Payne, Senior Manager of Sports Accounts at SMS INC, said: “Whilst the 2014 figures give the golf industry reason to be more positive, the continued decline of infrequent golfers remains a challenge that needs to be overcome.
“SMS INC has continuously stressed the importance of the ‘three F’s’ – Fun, Flexible, and Family’, a vision which the industry must fully adopt following these latest figures, to convert both first-time triallists and new golfers who may be using driving ranges into full-length course users, and secondly to prevent the loss of more infrequent players.”
SMS INC’s participation report also examines golf’s position in comparison to other sports. As per recent years, swimming, running and cycling are the top three sports in Great Britain in terms of participation.
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