Golf club membership across the UK is falling again, according to a survey of the sport across Europe. KPMG’s Golf Participation Report for Europe 2019 makes concerning reading for the home unions, with all four showing a decline in the number of registered golfers between 2017 and 2018.
Wales showed the biggest overall loss of players affiliated with clubs or associations, as a percentage figure, having ceded just over 4% of their total.
In terms of the number of players, England have suffered the highest fall in Europe – with more than 10,500 players having given up membership.
But the number of courses in the country actually increased by 16 (from 1,872 to 1,888), despite a climate that has seen a number of golf club closures over the last couple of years.
Recently, Temple Newsam, in Leeds, announced they were under threat while, in just the last month, Carswell, in Oxfordshire, and Moore Place, in Surrey, have closed their doors.
The report’s key findings were that, overall, the number of registered golfers across Europe had fallen by 0.6% from 2017 to 2018 for a total of 4,112,722.
Nearly half (45.5%) of those measured were classed as countries in decline with the likes of Slovenia, Armenia and Georgia suffering the biggest falls, albeit from much smaller bases.
Information was collected from respective golf associations in the first half of this year and did not include any statistics on the number of casual golfers – focusing simply on registered players.
It also only considered golf courses with at least nine holes to be of standard length and excluded academy, shortened courses, par 3 and pitch and putt courses.
In England, the number of registered golfers fell by 1.63%. This meant a loss of 10,688 players between 2017 and 2018 for a total of 645,151 compared with 655,839.
But England remain the country with the highest number of members, though Germany have closed the gap considerably and have 642,240 registered golfers.
Scotland suffered a 4% drop with 180,281 players registered to golf clubs compared with 187,802 in 2017.
More worrying for the sport north of the border is that the drop continues a general trend. Numbers have fallen from 209,812 since 2014.
Wales lost 1,808 members – a decrease of 4% – and had 42,743 members in 2018 compared with 44,551 the previous year.
And while participation in Ireland dropped from 183,461 to 182,398, the fall of 0.58% was too small to be considered by the authors as anything other than indicating stability.
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