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New measurement shows all participation

THE European Tour commissioned sports research company Sports Marketing Surveys Inc to undertake an innovative investigation into the UK’s involvement in any form of golf to measure the ‘Golf Actives’.

Traditionally, golf’s participation measurement has been based on the number of individuals participating in the sport through playing on a full-length golf course.

This new research extends its boundaries to include elements such as visiting the driving range, a golf simulator, putting greens and playing on a nine-hole course. The research also counts more non-traditional versions of the game such as adventure golf, and playing golf computer games.

When looking at these Golf Actives, the sport sees 9.3 million adults and 1.7 million children having some form of involvement with golf; a total of 11 million participants in the UK. Those playing on a full-length course – the traditional barometer – accounts for 3.5 million of these Golf Actives.

Tim Hunt, the European Tour’s marketing communications director, said of the findings: “It is clear that interest and active involvement in playing the sport is much greater than those outside the sport have believed. The European Tour has seen from those interested in our events, and with the emergence of global golf stars on our Tour, that golf has far more ‘Golf Actives’ than is traditionally reported.

“Our study with SMS proves that golf is in good health, and Golf Actives are a much broader demographic in age, gender, and ethnicity than may have been first considered. We will roll this study out through Europe next year and expect to find similarly positive results.”

Using the broader participation definition, just over a fifth of the UK population had engaged with some form of golf over the last 12 months. For adults the most popular forms of golf were played on full-length courses and driving ranges, while children were most likely to have been to adventure golf.

The appeal of the sport is significantly broader than traditionally reported, and sees a much wider demographic of the game with many more women and younger people being well represented. These new formats that have been incorporated into the Golf Active number are more accessible versions of the game and allow more golf exposure in everyday life. They act as a stimulus to trial, can be completed very quickly, would invariably cost less – but still lead to the Golf Actives being able to embrace the full length course game of golf.

John Bushell, managing director of SMS, said: “We are convinced that this picture would be replicated across Europe – there are many Golf Actives whose idea of a good golfing experience may be on a golf simulator on a night out with friends, or going to a form of Adventure Golf, but that there are also many golf courses who would embrace and welcome these players to try the game at their venue. Golf can be fun, fast and friendly – it is exciting these results prove this to be the case.”

The research consisted of SMS conducting 10,050 interviews throughout June and July 2015 to gain a nationally representative sample to study.