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The Great British Golf Boom Continues

Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS) reveal that the annual number of rounds of golf played in Great Britain continues to rise.

There was some drop-off against 2020 when lockdowns ended, and facilities reopened. Research carried out by SMS found that, across the year, 12 percent more rounds of golf were played across Scotland, England, and Wales. When compared against equivalent times before the covid pandemic, figures for 2021 are even more positive. In quarter four last year, rounds played were up by 40 percent versus the same period in 2019. 


SMS says that is hard to make exact comparisons with 2020 due to course closures and the subsequent rush thereafter but the comparisons with 2019 suggest an enduring uptick in the popularity of golf in the UK. 


Richard Payne, Director of Sports Marketing Surveys, welcomed the figures while noting the potential impact of rising living costs in the year ahead.

He said: “First and foremost, it’s great to see rounds played growing, proving that demand for golf is strong as we head into 2022. Rising costs and inflation are likely to put pressure on leisure budgets this year and so, particularly for those who came into golf during the pandemic, the key question now is how embedded it has become in their sporting and lifestyle DNA. Is it a core hobby that they will continue to play, even if the costs of access and equipment rise in line with inflation in other areas of the economy? The strong results for Q4 do suggest golfers are continuing to play through the inclement winter months, and so we are optimistic that people will stay in the game.”


Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, also welcomed the results. He said: “We have seen full-length course user golf participation rise to over 66 million worldwide in 2021 and almost 11 million in Europe. The rounds played for Great Britain in 2021 continue to support the evidence that more golfers are playing more often and realising the benefits of the sport for their physical and mental health.

“Golf, however, cannot become complacent as a sport and the industry must grasp the opportunity to maintain this interest by offering new and returning golfers the opportunity to stay in the sport and enjoy it at all levels – from traditional forms to new formats.”