Across the world, golf is a growing sport, with more people taking up the game since the advent of COVID-19 than in the years before it. The last time this level of interest was back when Tiger Woods won his maiden Masters in 1997. With its expanding popularity, have you ever wondered how many golf courses there are in the world?
There are 38,081 golf courses in the world which are spread among 206 of the world’s 251 countries and dependent territories, according to the R&A’s Golf Around The World report published in 2021. However, 80% of all golf courses are located in the top 10 golfing countries.
The National Golf Foundation (NGF) is responsible for keeping the official database of golf courses worldwide. Golf facilities are checked every 12 months in the US and every 24 months globally.
Let’s take a drive down the fairway and analyze the golf course distribution around the world and the current developments of golf courses in countries not generally known for playing the game.
How Many Golf Courses In The World Do The Top 10 Golf Countries Have?
As most of the world’s golf courses are located in the top ten countries, let’s take a look at these and how the numbers stack up:
|Top 10 Countries for Golf Courses||Number of Golf Courses|
|The Republic of Korea||810|
The USA dominates this table within 42% of the world’s golf course supply, while the Western hemisphere has 50% of the world’s golf courses. Europe holds 23% of the total courses, with Asia at 17%. Oceania has 5% with Africa, and South America each having 2%.
The top 20 countries account for 90% of all the golf courses, and adding to the top 10 countries are Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, Netherlands, Argentina, Denmark, Thailand, Italy, and India.
|Countries 11-20 for Golf Courses||Number of Golf Courses|
Which Country Has The Greatest Density Of Golf Courses?
This is a measure of how many courses are located in a country relative to its total land area, and here, the United Kingdom is the clear winner.
- England has a golf course every 22.8 square miles.
- Wales has a golf course every square 43.5 miles.
- Northern Ireland has a golf course every 48.3 square miles.
- Scotland has a golf course every 50.6 square miles.
While you might have thought the USA might be the densest, it is, in fact, one of the least so, as the landmass only locates a golf course every 235 square miles, and the same is true for Australia’s vast landmass with a golf course located every 1,875 square miles.
One of the most golf-centric countries is Japan because of its relatively small landmass; it has a golf course every 46.5 square miles, which is second only to England in course density.
How Many Golf Holes Are In The World?
Not every golf course has 18 holes, so it is interesting to note the number of golf holes in the world based on the R&A Golf Around The World report.
As of 2021, there are 544,866 golf holes globally, and again the USA dominates that category with 240,369 golf holes.
Do you want to know why most golf courses have 18 holes? Check out this article, Why Golf Courses Have 18 Holes.
How Many People Play Golf In The World?
The latest figures released at the end of 2021 indicate that the number of golfers in the world stands at 66.6 million, an increase of 5.5 million since 2016, and if you take the total number of holes in the world, that will give each golfer 121 holes!
Check out this article for a ton more statistics, including how many golfers there are in major regions, How Many Golf Players In The World?
Private vs. Public Courses
When we look at the split between public and private golf courses, there are far more public courses than private, with 30,364 public and only 7,717 private golf courses globally.
There are roughly four times as many public courses as private courses, and the 31,773 golf facilities in the world add to that. You can see that most golf activities (around 80%) take place on public courses or courses or facilities with a ‘pay-and-play’ policy.
What Is The Global Population Per Golf Hole?
While it is interesting to see the total number of golf holes and courses worldwide, one more intriguing statistic is the population per hole. This takes the total population of a region and divides it by the number of golf holes to get a figure.
The Golf Around The World report cites 7,794,798,729 people in the world, and with 544,866 golf holes, this gives a population of 14,306 people per golf hole.
So you share your favorite hole with another 14,000 players!
The continent with the greatest number of people per hole is Africa, as the immense population there and relatively low number of golf courses and holes equates to 109,822 people per hole.
Oceania has the least number of people per hole at just 1,419, and North America has 2,097 people per hole – but this figure includes Central America and The Caribbean.
Golf Course Development Around The World
Golf is expanding, and evidence of this is shown by the number of courses either in planning or under development at the time of the above report.
Ninety-six countries have golf courses under development, with 64 countries opening new courses between 2016 and 2020. Around 28% of all new golf developments are in Asia and the Middle East, where the expansion is heading.
Many of these developments are resort-based, and in North America, which only represents 32% of new golf developments, much of the funding is being allocated to upgrading existing facilities.
This strategy in the US is designed to make current courses more viable from a business perspective rather than the attraction of golf tourists to the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa. These areas have 29 new golf course developments in the pipeline, second only to the USA’s 31.
Africa accounts for 8% of all new golf developments, Europe has 28%, and Oceania and South America account for 5% and 2% respectively.
Let’s Wrap This Up!
By the end of 2022 and certainly in the years to follow, more golf courses and facilities will be available to the growing golf population and the subsequent demand for playing areas for both play and practice.
What is certain is that adding golf courses to countries that previously had few or any is going to spark interest in the game from both residents and visitors, and that can only be good for the game in the long term.