Golf’s Popularity in Asia-Pacific ‘Surging’

Marina Alex pulls a ball from a pile in the practice area Darren Carroll USGA
Picture by Darren Carroll/USGA.

Singapore: New research released by The R&A shows golf has surged in popularity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Research conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS) shows more than 23.3 million people across Asia played golf in 2020. That figure is up from 20.9 million in 2016, representing an 11.5 per cent increase – one of the most significant in the world.

Countries to have experienced the greatest increase in participation are China (+43%), Korea (31%), Malaysia (25%) and India (14%).

The total number of golfers expands to more than 24.6 million when taking in the Oceania region and is part of a record global reach of 66.6 million players.

The measure includes club members and non-member independent golfers playing nine or 18 holes and users of driving ranges in markets where course availability is limited.

The figure reflects a positive trend with participation levels rising worldwide after a period of decline.

Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said: “Golf is enjoying a real boom in popularity, including the Asia-Pacific. This is particularly evident in the past two years when the sport could be played safely outdoors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The new figures are very encouraging, but we need to work together as a sport to make the most of this opportunity by retaining those people who have returned to golf or tried it for the first time.

“We can achieve this by offering a variety of attractive and flexible options that encourage golfers to play more regularly and enjoy its many health and well-being benefits with family and friends.”

The research showed the growth trend began before Covid-19 and then accelerated during the pandemic as the popularity of golf grew because golfers could socially distance in a safe outdoor setting and stay active to boost their physical and mental health.

The research also outlined recommendations clubs can take to retain new players, including feeling welcome and valued; a friendly culture and relaxed atmosphere; participation options based on ability and experience; good customer service; having an efficient booking system; the quality and maintenance of the course; and, importantly, playing in an encouraging environment.

The R&A (Executive) and SMS (Full Business) are members of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

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