Study Shows How to Grow Golf with Millennials/Generation Z

Oakland, United States: A mobile golf technology start-up has unveiled findings from a KRC Research commissioned study* about the current state of golf participation.
The results revealed tremendous opportunities to attract non-golfers and Millennials/Generation Z to the game through mobile technology and unconventional play.
“We all know that participation in golf has been waning over the last few years,” said Eddy Lui, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of 18Birdies. “What this study proves, however, is that there is a great opportunity for the industry to grow the game through technology and gamification, especially with today’s younger generation, who are going to be essential for growing the sport.”
The research was based on interviews with 1,769 Americans aged 16 and older and was weighted to be demographically representative of the US population based on Census reference data.
As well as illustrating the fact there is significant opportunity to convert latent demand, the study revealed that there is a large proportion of non-golfers who are interested in learning the sport:

  • Four out of 10 non-golfers are interested in learning and playing
  • 67% of millennials and 73% of Gen Z non-golfers stated they want to learn to play

Leveraging mobile technology would grow the game with golfers and non-golfers.
A majority of respondents stated they would welcome mobile technology to assist them throughout their round:

  • 61% of golfers would play more if their smartphone had an app that keeps score. This is even higher among younger golfers.
  • 94% of millennials and 78% of Gen Z-ers say they would play more with a smartphone app
  • 63% of non-golfers are more likely to play with the help of smartphones
  • 86% of golfers confess to missing a shot because they didn’t know the distance to the hole and would benefit from technology that could track distances
  • Golfers and non-golfers, particularly among younger generations, look for ways to make the game fun:
  • 87% of millennial golfers are interested in playing more if they could bet with others
  • 56% of golfers and 46% of millennial golfers play side games on the course
  • 61% of golfers and 69% of non-golfers would play more golf if they could play side games on the course
  • The social nature of golf is a strong characteristic and can lead to more participation.

Golfers and non-golfers agree that golf is a good way to meet new people and network:

  • 86% of millennials and 83% of Gen Z-ers would be more likely to play if they had a friend to take them
  • 92% of golfers and 83% of non-golfers agree that golf is a good way to network and conduct business
  • 90% of golfers and 81% of non-golfers agree that golf is a good way to meet people

Different formats of tournaments and game play would lead to increased participation.
Additional ways to play the game are very intriguing to golfers and non-golfers:

  • 80% of golfers and 69% of non-golfers would play more if there were more opportunities to play scramble formats; 80% of millennial non-golfers would also play more with scramble formats
  • Shorter rounds will increase frequency of play and attract new golfers: 73% of golfers and 84% of non-golfers want to play shorter rounds (three, six, or nine holes); 95% of millennial golfers and 91% of millennial non-golfers would also play more with shorter roundsOther factors that would lead non-golfers to play include larger cups, being able to tee up every shot and night golf:
  • 72% of non-golfers would play if they could use a 15-inch hole; the number is higher with millennials at 82%
  • 69% of non-golfers would play if they could tee up every shot; the number rises to 82% with millennials
  • 63% of non-golfers would be more likely to play if they had access to night golf; with millennials, the number rises to 74%

18Birdies commissioned KRC Research to conduct a 15-minute quantitative survey of 1,769 Americans over the age of 16, from October 14-24, 2016. This base sample, derived from an on-line consumer panel, was drawn and weighted to be demographically representative of the US population (gender, age, education, race/ethnicity, and region), based on Census reference data.
To achieve a sufficiently large number of golfers and Gen Z consumers (age 16-21) to compare to other groups, KRC oversampled to reach a total of approximately 500 respondents in both categories. These oversampled groups are included in the total, and appropriately weighted to reflect their actual demographic proportions.

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