Golfer Insights Study Unveiled

Orlando, Florida, United States: NBC Sports Next, a leading provider of golf course technology and services, has taken a deep dive to find out what is driving recreational golf’s popularity and participation in the US to an all-time high.

Results from its first-ever golf consumer insights study were unveiled at the 2024 PGA Show, revealing golfer attitudes and behaviour, as well as motivations influencing their participation in the sport now and into the future.

The information presented in The New Era of Golf consumer insights study was collected by surveying more than 4,000 golfers from all corners of the US. between October 19-30, 2023.

The survey respondents were equally represented among men and women, as well as across age demographics. They were asked to share their golfing habits and preferences – on and off the golf course – over the past year (October 19, 2022, to October 18, 2023).

Additionally, the study revealed that nearly 20% of the respondents were also users of GolfNow, NBC Sports Next’s tee-time booking service, which illustrated some interesting comparisons.

Results from the study supports current data from the National Golf Foundation (NGF) that golf is flourishing. According to the NGF, total US golf participation eclipsed 40 million for the first time in 2022, while more than a third of the total US population played, watched, read about, or engaged with golf content on social media.

Overall, the golfers surveyed said they love playing golf and want to play more in the coming year. More than 35% of the golfers surveyed played at least five rounds of golf over the past year, with the vast majority having played mostly with family and friends. Some additional highlights from the survey include:

At the Golf Course

  • More than 50% of the golfers surveyed like to play a variety of golf courses.
  • Nearly 50% are willing to play in extreme weather conditions, including temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Three-quarters regularly spent money at the golf course, in addition to the cost of their round, with more than half saying they purchased food and beverages.
  • A third said they took a lesson over the past year, increasing to more than two-thirds among GolfNow users.
  • Nearly half used a golf simulator at the course, if available, increasing to 68% among GolfNow users.
  • More than 50% said that a well-maintained driving range and practice putting green are important.

Off the Golf Course

  • 49% of golfers surveyed visited a golf entertainment venue over the past year, increasing to 75% among GolfNow users.
  • 79% said they watched instructional videos to help improve their golf game, increasing to 96% among GolfNow users.
  • 65% said they like to play golf on vacation and 43% travelled to play golf this past year, with more than half of all golfers saying they travelled to locations in the continental US.

The study also revealed that golfers are adopting technology like never before, including how they book golf. When asked about their online booking behaviour, more than 30% said they booked at least one round of golf online or through an app in the past year, noting the quickness, ease of search, and simple payment processing.

They also like the option of pre-payment for tee times, ordering food and beverages in advance, and using GPS, scoring, or gaming features online.

NBC Sports Next, through its GolfNow and TeeOff brands, provides technology and services to more than 11,000 golf courses worldwide.

Since pre-pandemic (2019) to the present, GolfNow has seen a 40% increase in rounds booked across its eco-system, having facilitated more than 25 million rounds booked in 2023, nearly a 4% year-over-year increase – demonstrating that golf’s popularity continues to grow after the boom it experienced during the pandemic.

Percentages for unique bookers, new bookers, as well as people returning to the game also increased. Golf courses also are adopting technology in record numbers, with installations of NBC Sports Next golf course management technology setting an all-time high in 2023.

Revenue generated for NBC Sports Next partner golf courses exceeded US$1.04 billion in 2023, including US$450 million from GolfNow, alone.

Demographics of Survey Respondents

  • Among the 4,000-plus golfers participating in the survey, 67% have been playing golf for more than four years.
  • 50% were male, 49% women and 1% non-binary.
  • 34% were between the ages of 35-54 and 34% 55-plus, with 32% ages18-24.
  • 49% reported having a household income under US$60,000, 29% between US$60,000-US$99,000, and 22% over US$100,000.
  • 38% live in the South, 23% in the Midwest, 20% in the West, and 19% in the Northeast.

The entire New Era of Golf consumer insights study is available to download here at NBC Sports Next.

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