England Golf takes positives after less people quit playing

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Active People Survey says decline in number of regular golfers is slowing.

The number of regular golfers quitting the sport slowed during 2014, a survey by Sport England has found.

While a downward trend has continued and less people play golf than they did a year ago, England Golf has said the slowing rate of decline is evidence that their hard work is taking effect.

“The Active People Survey offers some encouraging news,” said England Golf chief executive David Joy. “There is much still to do to achieve the growth that we all want to see, but it is very heartening to see indications that the downward trend in participation is slowing.”

Overall, 730,300 people aged 16-plus played golf at least once a week during the year, a reduction of less than three per cent on the figure for October 2013.

By contrast, the drop in participation in the previous year was almost 12 per cent.
‘Golf offers more opportunities and better value to all participants’ England Golf has been pushing a number of initiatives as it attempts to arrest the decline in participation. The Get into golf campaign inspires adults to take up or return to the game and offers value coaching with PGA professionals.

The England Golf Partnership’s network of County Golf groups also supports clubs with membership recruitment and retention, while a pilot scheme has started in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire, to introduce additional initiatives.

Joy added: “We have made real progress in the past 12 months in better understanding the challenges, putting the right plans in place and encouraging everyone to work together to develop and promote the game.

“We are now doing many of the right things. These figures reinforce the importance of maintaining our focus on golf clubs, encouraging more people to find the club membership model that suits them and encouraging members and non-club members to play more often, to hit balls at the range, to squeeze in six and nine-hole golf into their week and to enjoy the sport to the full.”

Figures for the 26-plus age group show that participation fell by 1.1 per cent to 691,900, compared to 12 per cent in the previous year. 

The report shows that the number of regular players in the 55-plus age group is growing, while the 45 to 54-year-old level has stabilised.

Sandy Jones, chief executive of the PGA, said: “The survey shows there is still much to be done to increase the participation rates within the game of golf. But we should take heart from the fact that the initiatives that have been put in place within the game are having an effect in arresting further declines in numbers.

“There can be no doubt that golf now offers more opportunities and better value to all participants than it ever has and this should be reflected in an upward trend across the game in the year ahead.”

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