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Golf in Europe

Million Registered Players
Growth Rate % 2015
Avg. Participation Rate % 2013


It is no news that the development of golf in Europe has been facing its roughest times ever. The growth of registered players has started to show a decreasing trend since 2008 and ever since, the numbers don’t seem to pick up.

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.

Player Development

Since 2011 more registered players leave the game than the total of newcomers. Some see an strong reason in the financial crisis, which certainly has an influence on the spending of golfers. But the graph shows that the trend in the growth percentages was already negative before the crisis. So it has to be more. According to the growth percentage trend, the forecast shows negative growth until 2020. Registered players will fall from roughly 4.3 million to 3.5 million.

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

A forecast for players based on the average growth rate from 2011 to 2013 has been created in order to see where will numbers of players be in 2020. The bad news is that the future of registered players doesn’t seem too promising in 2020. If the growth % average maintains at the same rate, by 2018 the number of players will be less than in 2004.

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.









Player Distribution

Player Distribution

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:

Distribution 2013


In 2013 33% of the registered players in these countries is over 60. 56% is over 50.

Forecast 2020


Forecasted on the current development in 2020 42% will be over 60. 66% over 50.

Rounds Development

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.


Course Development

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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The following associations, organisations, federations & industry suppliers contributed data to the VISION 2020 project to develop the overview above
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