Golf in Europe
Many factors can be attributed to the worrying decline but in order to have a clearer overview, we took a look under the hood of the industry and sourced historic data from numerous European Federations and the European Golf Association.
Does golf capture its potential market?
The participation rate of golfers of a number of continental European countries shows a wide spread. Sweden leading with over 5% of the population playing golf.
The USA shows 8-10% participation in golf. If Europe could grab the opportunity and get at the Swedish level of 5% participation this would mean a growth from 4.3 million to 20 million players. So golf in Europe has a huge potential.
When looking at the registered player development of the last four years it can be clearly seen that the economic crisis had great impact in the development of golf. From 2010 to 2011 around of 49.000 registered golfers left the game or stopped with their memberships at their local federations. A total decrease of 2% has been recorded from EGA statistics.
Player Development Forecast 2004 - 2020
Player Development Forescast
It is important to highlight the large decrease in the number of junior players in the last couple of years. Action must be taken to prevent these numbers from falling at such drastic rates. By 2020 numbers of young players will have decreased significantly.
Germany, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Spain show the same trend: only net growth of players over 60. A clear picture: golf is not able to attract or retain players of the other generations.
The bad news is that the younger player is the future player. If we loose them now, we face a very challenging future. We do not take into account that a big part of the current over 60 players will not be able to play golf anymore due to high age. Golf needs new ways to attract and retain players of all ages. Short term fix is to get more 50+ players on board. Long term focus is making golf attractive to the younger generations.
If this continues the result for the total player population for the aggregated player population of Germany, Netherlands, France, Sweden and Spain in 2020 will be:
In 2013 33% of the registered players in these countries is over 60. 56% is over 50.
Unfortunately only a few countries keep structured data on rounds played. With the countries we found: 3 out of 4 show a negative development on rounds. Only Sweden has a more positive outlook.
The development of courses has been continuous over the years. Nevertheless, the decrease in the number of players has forced many golf clubs around Europe to close their doors which explains the growth trend the development of golf courses have had throughout the years.
It is believed golf course development has reached its maturity level and now the number of registered courses is going to decrease or stagnate in many countries as there is little room for new golf courses to be built and less players to attract to the courses every year.
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