Study Reveals Habits of Millennial Golfers

Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Global consulting firm GGA Partners and Nextgengolf, a subsidiary of the PGA of America, have released the fifth annual Millennial Golf Industry Study entitled ‘Life in Flux: The Evolving Priorities of Millennial Golfers’.

The 2021 Millennial Golf Industry Survey was conducted from November 2020 through January 2021 and garnered responses from over 1,600 golfers whose average age was just over 29 years old.

Key highlights of the 2021 millennial golfer study include:

  • Average annual rounds played reached a new peak: 33.9 rounds, a 9% increase year-over-year and average handicap reached a record low, decreasing 5% to 8.8.
  • Average spend per golf round has increased 28% over the past five years, climbing to US$47 from US$34 in 2017 at an average rate of US$3.25 more per round each year.
  • For a generation characterised as digital natives, it may come as a surprise that a substantial portion of millennials purchase golf equipment and apparel in-person, roughly two-thirds at a sporting goods store and almost half at a course pro shop.
  • As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, golf has become more important to millennial golfers, according to 60% of the sample. More than four in five (84%) say they are able to work from home; and over half (51%) say this added flexibility allows them to play more golf.
  • Sixty-per cent (60%) of participating millennials prefer golf venues that actively exhibit social and environmental values. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say these behaviours would influence their likelihood of purchase, and approximately three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed would be willing to pay more, if excellent social and environmental practices increased the costs of golf venues.
  • Millennials are attracted to private clubs that offer non-golf amenities and social components. Interest is highest in amenities offering two key attributes: 1) non-traditional golf play like night-time golf use and simulators; and 2) a multi-use club experience with casual dining, socialisation and fitness.

“Not every millennial is the same, but it’s often communicated that way,” said Matt Weinberger, Nextgengolf’s Director of Operations, PGA of America, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

“In our continuous work with the millennial audience and now Generation Z, we see tremendous opportunity for PGA Professionals and golf facilities to deliver value to young people while operating their businesses. The key is understanding how golf businesses mesh with millennial lifestyles,” added Weinberger.

Michael Gregory, a partner at GGA Partners, said: “What this research shows is a tremendous opportunity for golf facilities and private clubs.

“To succeed in attracting the next generation of members, golf facilities must build their reputations around diversity, inclusiveness, and environmental stewardship, providing an amenity and activity profile designed to create experiences which enrich the emotional connection and sense of belonging that elevates the value proposition most appealing to young golfers.”

Historically focused on golfers in the millennial generation (those born between 1981-1996, roughly ages 25-40 in 2021), the study has now begun to span two generations.

Nearly one third of the sample audience now technically belongs to Generation Z (those born after 1997, roughly ages 9-24 in 2021), an emergent golfer cohort which the study will continue to evaluate in the future.

Through this study, GGA Partners and Nextgengolf have identified the evolutions happening among the golfers of the future to assist golf facility operators in finding ways to adapt and develop their offerings to meet the needs of the next wave of members and customers.

The 2021 Millennial Research Study is available to all golf facility operators. Download the report here.

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