Boom Continues As Newcomers Tee Off Across The State

Strong growth in club membership and a staggering 21 per cent year-on-year rise in total rounds played are just a couple of the key findings on the sport from the latest National Golf Club Participation Report which was released today.

Prepared by Golf Business Advisory Services, the report uses club member participation data and Sport Australia’s AusPlay data. Both sets of figures provide the sport’s administrators with a year-on-year view of the game’s participation trends.

DOWNLOAD: 2020/21 Australian Golf Participation Infographic
DOWNLOAD: 2020/21 Golf Club Participation Report

More than 24,000 new players joined golf clubs in 2020-21, the biggest jump in recorded since data collection began in 1970, taking the total number of male and female participants to 409,970.

Junior membership also exploded, with a whopping 16 per cent increase in under-18’s joining their local club.

AusPlay’s data also reveals an estimated 1,204,000 total golf participants played a 9-hole or 18-hole round in the 2020-21 financial year. Golf Australia’s nine-hole round data supports this, which reported a 20 per cent growth with over 517,000 rounds played in 2020-21.

Sustainable Membership

Numbers supplied to Golf NSW from clubs during the 2021/22 reporting period show a jump in memberships of around 9.5% across metropolitan Sydney and just over 7% in regional New South Wales.

Several clubs across metropolitan Sydney have reported significant double-digit increases in memberships, including Bardwell Valley (32.9%), Brighton Lakes (30.5%), Castlecove (35.8%), Gordon (31.4%), Lane Cove (38.6%), Macquarie Links (22.8%), Penrith (24.8%), Palm Beach (23.2%) and Richmond (25.8%).

Marrickville in the City’s inner-west has recorded a whopping 49.6% increase in membership in just 12 months.

Participation report 1920 20220125 NSW AM Matchplay Day one 0489
Facilities like the Shanx Mini Golf facility at The Links Shell Cove are bringing new people to the sport.

Regional Clubs across the State have also reported sizeable increases.

Along the Murray, Rich River reported a spike in members of 18.7%, while on the South Coast, The Links Shell Cove (6.75%), Gerringong (20.8%), Worrigee Links ( 20.86%) and Jamberoo (34.17%) increased memberships. Further down the Coast, Moruya (10.7%) was well above the state average.

The story is much the same in the State’s north, with Coffs Harbour (6.2%), Kempsey (13.4%), Nambucca Heads (9.3%), Sawtell ( 7%) all showing healthy growth.

Other club numbers of note include Duntryleague in the central west, up 14 per cent and The Vintage in the Hunter Valley, which has seen its membership increase by 26 per cent.

Golf NSW CEO, Mr Stuart Fraser, said it was pleasing to see the sport grow after several years of declining membership.

“The first positive signs appeared in the middle quarter of 2020 coinciding with the first COVID lockdown. 

“With many other avenues for sport shuttered during the pandemic, the ability to keep the game open, to have members continue to play, while maintaining correct social distancing was critical,” Mr Fraser said.

“Twelve months on, and we can see from the affiliation numbers rolling in from across the state, last year’s initial small growth is now turning into something substantial.

“The surge in membership is comprehensive as well. Not only are we seeing former golfers return to the sport, but we are also seeing women, juniors, and millennials join in increasing numbers,” he added.

Across the country the story is much the same. Victoria experienced recorded a bump of 8.9 per cent despite limited access to golf clubs during the ongoing pandemic, while all states experienced substantial growth. South Australia grew by 7.2 per cent, WA by 7 per cent, QLD by 6.4 per cent, Tasmania by 4.6 per cent and the Northern Territory by 0.5 per cent.

Golf Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland said the findings were “monumentally encouraging for the game”, pointing out that the results buck the gradual decline in golfers endured between 2000-2019.

“Our purpose is simple – we want more Australians playing more Golf. There are many different forms of Golf making it truly a game for everyone,” Mr Sutherland said.  

“It’s fun, it can be played at any age, and it’s proven to be good for your health. These are just some of the factors driving this phenomenal growth. 

“Interestingly, these latest figures tell us there are far more casual golfers that are not members of a club than there are club members. This suggests we have a fantastic launching pad to continue to grow our sport and bring new people to our game. We want to keep driving this by making the sport more accessible and creating more options to play to ensure Golf continues to be a sport for all,” he added. 

Key findings of the report include:  

  • Positive member movement was evident in all key market segments. Both member clubs and social clubs enjoyed growth of around six per cent, driven by growth in male numbers of more than seven per cent. Junior numbers also enjoyed substantial growth, increasing by 15 per cent compared to the prior year. 
  • All states except Northern Territory enjoyed growth well in advance of recent trends. Despite long periods of course closures due to lockdown measures, Victoria recorded growth of 8.9 per cent.  
  • New members coming to our sport are younger than the broader club member age profile, with 60 per cent of new members under the age of 50. Of new members, 34 per cent were between 15-34 in 2020-21, compared to 25 per cent in 2019-20. 
  • Female members make up 19 per cent of all golfers.
  • The national new club member attraction rate was 13 per cent, with an attrition rate of 10 per cent. Of all new golfers in 2020-21, 60 per cent were under 50 years old, compared to the number of 30 per cent of current members.
  • The average age of club members in Australia is 56.9 years. The average for male members is 55.3 years, and for women, 64.3 years. 
  • 11,769 million competition rounds were played in 2020-21, representing a 12 per cent increase over 2019-20. 
  • The report estimates’ total golf participants’ at 1.204 million people, according to Ausplay, up 21 per cent on the previous year. 
  • Get Into Golf, the adult introductory program, saw 313 clubs and facilities registered, with 224 actively participating and 6594 participants in 1230 programs. Of the total participants, 5564 or 84 per cent were female. 

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