Our new survey of 4,322 golfers has revealed an overwhelming sense of optimism for the future of the grassroots game. It also uncovered a desire amongst players to modernise the traditional membership model.
The nationally-representative survey, carried out this summer, questioned players about their opinions on the game, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Almost all (97%) of those surveyed said they have returned to the course since lockdown restrictions were lifted. One in three golfers (36%) are even playing more than they had previously, with just one in 10 saying they have played less.
But it wasn’t universally easy to get back in the swing: 46% of golfers said that they felt “rusty” or “very rusty” when they returned to the course.
When asked about the new guidelines that have been implemented to keep golfers safe, 96% of those surveyed said they have found them easy to follow. And eight in 10 think their club communicated the new rules well.
In addition, more than half (52%) of respondents said they have noticed more visitors on the course over the summer months. Of these respondents, 77% were positive about the change, saying it made them feel optimistic for the future of golf. A further 37% of those questioned said they were confident that the post-lockdown era would open the door for a new generation of golfers.
However, almost 40% of respondents stated that the traditional membership model should be reconsidered to allow golf courses and the grassroots game to thrive.
Sascha, a golfer who plays in Fife, commented:
“The membership model needs to change in order to attract a more varied population of new players…but the image of golf as an expensive, stuffy pastime for middle-aged, middle-class white men is going to be hard to shift.
“My club offers a variety of membership options, as well as reciprocal golf and reduced green fees at other clubs in Scotland. However, this neither seems representative of golf clubs in general…nor did it attract the number of new players required to keep the club going. If clubs think that an increase in membership because of the pandemic eradicates the need to change (and become more inclusive, more flexible and more ‘modern’), they’re being naive.”
Our ambassador and ex-pro golfer, Bernard Gallacher OBE, also said: “When it comes to making the game more accessible to a younger generation, I would say that golf is generally trying hard to be inclusive, rather than exclusive. Nowadays, people don’t need to be a member of a club to enjoy golf; it’s possible to play at driving ranges, play as a visitor or take out a multi-club online membership instead. That gives you an opportunity to play many courses – which is fantastic!”