While we have already talked about the popularity of golf in different countries, we have talked little about the number of golfers in the world. We focused mainly on the number of golf courses and holes, which can be frequented by both native golf addicts and tourists.
In fact, counting golf courses is much easier than counting who plays on them. Indeed, data are changeable, often incomplete, and not always up-to-date. In this article, however, we will try to shed some light on this.
How many golf addicts are there in Europe and the world
According to data collected in the HSBC report, about 24 percent of people aged 18 to 64 have expressed interest in golf. The term “interest” is rather vague and includes a little bit of everything from the actual game to the rounds followed on television. In any case, it gives an idea of the popularity of the sport in the world.
When it comes to defining how many of these people are actually gamers, the data starts to get fuzzy. According to Mindshare, the number of golfers worldwide is about 80 million. For more precise data, we need to move to the United States and Europe. In these two cases, we have much more timely information about the actual popularity of golf among the population.
The NGF report about 34.2 million golf fans in the United States alone, divided between 24.3 million players and 9.9 million “off-course participants.” Who falls into this second category? All those who do not play on the course, but use simulators and participate in golf-related activities.
If we move to Europe, there were 4.11 million registered golfers in 2019. Of these only 90,229 registered in Italy. Unfortunately for us, the heart of European golf continues to be the United Kingdom.
How many women play golf?
Golf has always been considered a men-only sport, although this is not entirely true. Just to give one example, the caddie figure was invented by Queen of Scots Mary Stuart, one of the first female golf addicts we know of. Yet, a grain of truth there is: golf continues to be a sport played mostly by men.
On the one hand, the data reported by the HSBC report is encouraging: in recent years, women have shown increasing interest in golf. On the other hand, the percentages of female golf addicts continue to be quite low.
In the United States, there are about 5.6 million female golf enthusiasts, or about 23 percent. If we go to examine the NGF data more closely, the situation gets even worse. Of these 5.6 million, only 54 percent actually play golf. In fact, 46 percent of them are “off-course participants.”
In Europe, the percentages of female golfers range from 20 percent in Ireland to 29 percent in Sweden. The latter is the most positive figure by far in the old continent. In Italy, women golfers make up about 25 percent of total registered golfers.
We are entering the era of online golf
There is always someone ready to declare the death of golf, calling it a sport now in decline. Reality is more complex than that, and it is difficult to make predictions about the future.
Despite the apocalyptic claims of some people, there has been an increase in budding golfers of about 14 percent in recent years. Added to these are all those who have declared themselves interesting and, most importantly, digital players.
In the United States alone, there are about 20 million “virtual golfers,” or people who play through simulators. About 40 percent of these have never seen a live golf course, although they would be more than happy to make up for it. We are waiting for them with open arms.