Golf participation hits record high in USA

Growing Golf
Swing Studio at Topgolf

Golf's popularity has hit an all-time high in the United States of America.

More people are playing golf than ever before in the US, according to new data released by the National Golf Foundation.

For the first time, the total number of golf participants (on and off course) surpassed 40 million, increasing 10% year-on-year, and reaching a record high of 41.1 million in 2022.

The NGF’s Graffis Report 2023 provides an overview of the US golf industry over the past 12 months.

It gives data insights into who is playing the game, where and why, as well as analysing golf’s supply chain, retail markets and overall health.

The report found the number of traditional on-course golfers rose for the fifth straight year to 25.6 million, a 2% increase, despite fewer rounds being played last year compared with pandemic-affected 2021.

Historic shift to off-course venues

The largest growth area was in the number of people playing golf off-course, at driving ranges, golf simulators and tech-driven entertainment venues such as Topgolf and Drive Shack.

Researchers found off-course participation rose 13% to 27.9 million in 2022.

This is the first time that off-course play has surpassed traditional on-course participation.

Findings showed that 15.5 million off-course participants experienced golf exclusively in non-course settings.

The average age of these golfers was 31, 41% were women and 40% were non-white.

Previous reporting by Syngenta explored the rising trend in off-course golf and its impacts upon traditional business models in the game.

Greg Nathan, Chief Business Officer at the NGF, which has been surveying golfers in the United States since 1986, has monitored participation trends closely. 

“Over the past several years, off-course participation has developed a much higher profile here in the US because of the very obvious growth of Topgolf.

“The golf entertainment business attracts the exact types of people that on-course golf wants more of. The customer profile is younger, more minority participation, more female and more families.”

These prospective customers are being exposed to the exact experience required to convert them to green grass golfers, says Nathan.

Read more about the NGF’s research.