a global… and national boom! – PlanetGolf

What if the Covid pandemic had sparked a new golf craze?

This is indicated by the record numbers just published National Golf Foundation and proving that last year 101 million people played golf worldwide (including 25 million in the US, plus 14 million who hit balls at the driving range or at places like Topgolf).

This represents a 20% increase in the United States compared to 2019, which was marked by the Covid and a 42% drop in visitor numbers. In one year, the number of courts played has increased by 11.3% (ie more than 50 million). The most dynamic states were Texas (+39%), Florida (+37%) and Arizona (+31%). Note that the proportion of young golfers aged 6 to 17 has increased by 20% (ie 500,000 children!). The turnover of the pro shops even reached 389 million dollars in July!

In the United Kingdom, between August 2020 and August 2021, the number of courses played by the 705,000 club members reached 15.3 million units (ie +938,000) according to the agency BRS. A slight drop in summer is explained by the European Football Championship keeping fans at home, bad weather and the reopening of restaurants and bars… However, the numbers are still very high compared to the pre-pandemic period.

In Australia, the post-pandemic period showed that 230,000 adults had started (or resumed) golf and the number of courses played had increased by 12%.

A global phenomenon that highlights the need to find an outdoor sport that can be played with friends without risk to health.

As far as brands go, business is good. Callaway announced a 91% increase in sales in the second quarter of 2021, acoustic net announced a 111% increase in sales of its golf clubs while doubling sales and tailor-made was sold to a Korean company for $1.9 billion.

What about us in France?

We asked the question Christopher Muniesa Manager of the ffgolf as well as too Laurent Boissonnas, President of the GEGF (Groupement des Entrepreneurs de Golf Français), the first professional association bringing together owners and operators of golf courses. http://Group of French Golf Entrepreneurs (poss.eu)


Christophe Muniesa: We will break our licensee record!


Christopher Muniesa

©Alexis Orloff (FFgolf)

I can confirm that the trend for the development of golf in France is excellent.

At the end of 2021, the ffgolf will beat its record in terms of the number of licensees. The previous record, set at the end of 2012, was 422,000 members. By the end of 2021, we will surpass 430,000 licensees. This rate represents growth of almost 8% compared to 2020 and just over 4% compared to 2019, which was already a very good year.
Obviously the level of licensed practice isn’t the be-all and end-all, but it still allows the trend to be gauged.

A massive influx of new players

Aside from the overall numbers, the other good news is the massive influx of new golfers. In 2021 we will register more than 50,000 new licensees, ie more than 10% of the total. This dynamic has not been seen since the late 1980s, but back then nearly 30 degree programs were being created each year, which is not the case today. In fact, the number of courses is stagnating today.

This strong growth is due to several trend elements. First of all, the momentum was already on the up before the 2020/2021 crisis. Since 2016 we have made progress, albeit more modest. The 100 Small Golf Courses plan, which helped create more than 80,000 new golfers between 2008 and 2018, has played a pivotal role in welcoming these new fans of the little cue ball. Hosting the Ryder Cup has put our sport in the spotlight and helped catalyze this new appeal for golf to a larger segment of the French population. Finally, in all areas, urban and rural, clubs have been running extensive campaigns of open door operations, most of which are free.

The questions are simple

Today, thanks to the studies we carry out regularly (Union Sports & Cycles, Sports Marketing Surveys, EY, etc.), we can see how we can measure the number of players and evaluate the types of practices and player motivation, which is the main development lever Practical offer itself. The questions that everyone interested in golf asks themselves are very simple: Where can I play? At what price ? What will the “benefit” of this practice be for me in terms of pleasure or well-being? Will I be supervised/accompanied by a teacher? And will they “take care” of me to make my experience pleasant (term of service)?

sustainable growth

The fact that clubs are present in all these dimensions gives us a clear indication of sustainable growth. We believe this revival of our discipline reflects the desire of many French people for nature and friendly sport.
This desire, the revelation of which was the year 2021, bodes very well for the future of French golf.


Laurent Boissonnas: The golf family has remained united in the crisis
and today are the signs of hope!


The golf industry has not escaped the Covid 19 crisis. As a result of 3 months of full government shutdowns, 2.5 months of additional restaurant closures and traffic restrictions post lockdown, golf companies – regardless of their commercial and associative management method – average 19% in total sales and 11% in 2020 in pure golf activities (subscriptions, green fees, practice, rentals, etc.).

Despite this, thanks to the efforts of golf course employees, investment delays and various government aid programs (affecting an average of 8% of 2019 sales in 2020), clubs have managed to weather this unique crisis without pledging the future.

Business picks up

Even during the crisis, the golf family has remained united to better defend its interests and represent its values ​​with one voice before the authorities with other outdoor leisure activities where appropriate. These measures have allowed the courses to limit the closing times (which could have been adapted to restaurants or even indoor sports) and thus to be reopened at the end of November 2020, a priori without a 2021 mortgage.

Despite the closure of bars and restaurants until May 19, activity has picked up nicely in 2021. Activity in the first half of the year rose sharply compared to 2020, but above all by 4% compared to 2019 – which is quite remarkable. In the second half of the year, the increase in average activity shows a trend of more than 5% on average, which is very positive, even if it hides significant differences. Clubs whose activities are linked to international tourism remain severely disadvantaged, while those that mainly capture a local leisure clientele can go beyond, especially on the coast – consequences of the new behavior related to the Covid crisis (teleworking, which a new organization of the days, secondary residences that become almost the main residence, etc.).

The values ​​of golf

The lockdown period and the societal dynamism it has activated are indeed having a positive impact on 2021 for golf, outdoor activities and sport in general. More than ever, after being “locked up”, the French wanted to be outdoors, in the heart of nature, to have fun with friends or family … So many values ​​that golf embodies perfectly, far beyond any usual prejudice. that come from another time, far removed from reality.
The reality is that golf is fun, good for your health and good for your mood.

There is no shortage of challenges, above all the ecological change

The license numbers 2021 confirm that there are more golfers (the number of FF Golf licensees will break a record with more than 430,000 licensees in 2021) and above all that the curiosity about golf is stronger. In fact, the number of new licenses created in a year could be approaching historic records with more than 45,000 – good news for golf after 10 years of stagnation. This trend must nevertheless be confirmed for 2022, because the clubs are not lacking in challenges, especially with regard to the ecological transition.


And tomorrow ?


Many people never thought they would become golfers. Others who had left their clubs in a garage have found them lucky. Still others who played 5 times a year play 5 times a month!

We have also met young people who throw themselves fully into this sport, which they thought was reserved for pensioners. The notion of the relationship to time, health and nature has changed with the pandemic. And this is good for the development of golf.

There are many solutions in the clubs to handle this influx of enthusiasts: advanced orange discounts for young people, flexible working hours, rental series, installment payments, etc.

The downside

But on the other side of the coin, other problems can also arise: the main ones are of three kinds.
First, this phenomenon must not be a fad that will be abandoned as quickly as attempted. On golf courses, namely to retain newcomers who are often forcibly removed from their favorite course and who started golf by default.
Then this influx caused congestion on some already full golf courses. In certain geographical sectors like the Basque Country it is very difficult to get departures even a week in advance, especially if you want to play in a group.
Finally, the staff does not always have sufficient resources to meet these needs, as operators are reluctant to invest while the future is still uncertain.

Be aware that the optimists envision a new wave of course building to welcome supporters of the world’s first individual sport!


How many golf courses in the world?


According to NGF, there are around 38,000 courses worldwide, represented in 82% of the countries listed: ie 206 out of 251 countries.

A sport that is very present all over the planet, but whose main course – 80% – is concentrated in ten developed countries.

With a statistic that also explains the success of golf in the USA: Contrary to what you might think, 75% of the courses there are public.

Cover Photo The Champions Course – Evian Resort Golf Club

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