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How Many Golf Players In The World?

Golf is a sport that has seen some unprecedented growth in the last six years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role in that increase since 2020. Major regions have reported more golfers playing than ever before. So, how many golf players are there in the world?

There are 66.6 million golf players in the world, according to the latest stats posted by the R&A and Sports Marketing Survey in December 2021. This is a significant increase of 5.5 million players from the last survey done in 2016 and is evidence that record numbers are now playing golf worldwide.

Golf’s growing popularity over the last two years has much to do with the fact that it was one of the few sports that permitted early reopening in the US and other countries after the initial lockdown of the global pandemic ended.

Let’s see exactly where and by how much golf has grown globally, specifically in the US, Europe, Asia, and other golfing countries.

How Many Golf Players In The World?

How Many Golf Players In The USA?

As the world’s biggest golf market, the USA has seen a surge in on-course and off-course participation in the game, and COVID-19 has much to do with that. Since the pandemic, courses and facilities around the US have all reported surges in rounds played and equipment sales.

There are 24.8 million golfers in the US, according to the latest stats posted by the NGF in April 2021. This is an increase of 500,000 players and up 2% from 2019. New and returning players accounted for this rise, which was 6.2 million and was the most significant increase in 17 years.

The numbers recorded by the National Golf Foundation are truly something when you consider that this boom was last seen when Tiger Woods won his first major championship in 1997. Similarly, when he won the US Open in 2008 with a broken leg, caused a huge increase in interest in the game.

Ladies’ numbers are also on the rise, with some 450,000, making up more than 25% of the golf players in the USA.

North America saw the numbers increase by more than 700,000 from 29.9 million to 30.6 million, and golf rounds in 2021 were up by 16% from 2020.

Do you want to know how many golf courses there are worldwide? Check out this article, How Many Golf Courses In The World?

Let’s now look at the other major regions around the world.

Golf Player Numbers In Europe

Europe saw phenomenal growth of golf players, with figures increasing from 7.9 million players to 10.6 million, a 34% rise in golfers on the continent, and full courses. This growth was driven mainly by Ireland and Great Britain, which saw a 58% rise in golf players.

This equates to 5.8 million players at the end of 2021 in Ireland and Britain against earlier figures of 3.6 million players; not only that, but 95% of these golfers indicated an intention to maintain their participation in the long term.

How Many Golf Players In Asia?

Golf is a phenomenally popular sport in the East, and the number of players entering the game agrees with this. In Asia, golf player numbers rose from 20.9 million to 23.3 million, or 11.4 % from 2016.

While we are in this part of the world, you should note that Japan has the second largest population of golfers in the world, behind the USA.

With 8.9 million golfers and more than 2,300 courses, golf is played religiously in Japan, and many high-powered business deals are done exclusively on the golf course. Interest in golf spiked significantly when Hideki Matsuyama won the Masters in 2021.

Hideki Matsuyama
Instagram: @hidekimatsuyama1

How Many Golf Players In Other Countries?

While the USA, Europe, and Asia all have large golfing populations, other countries also contribute to the number of golfers globally.

Canada

In Canada, there are some 5.7 million golfers, and they have some of the finest courses in the world. While you might not immediately think sunshine and green grass in a country well known for winter, golf is a very popular sport, and Mike Weir, the left-handed PGA pro, is one of their best-known players.

Australia

With golfing legends like Greg Norman, Australia also has a substantial golf population with some 1.3 million players or about 10% of the country playing the game regularly and with more than 1,800 courses available to play.

Ireland

Having produced a few great players like Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry, golf in the Emerald Isle is a very popular game, and all that greenery makes for great courses. Between 2020 and 2021, Ireland’s golfing population increased by 219,000 players to 540,000, which is 68%.

What Other Countries Are Golf Popular In?

Other countries where golf is popular include:

  • New Zealand with 484,000 players.
  • Switzerland with 90,000 players.
  • Denmark with over 150,000 players.
  • Finland with around 50,000 players.

Another big contributor to the growth in golf is Africa, with new courses and more players taking up the game across the continent. South Africa has produced some top champions like Gary Player, Ernie Els, and Retief Goosen, to name just a few.

Female Golfer on the Course

Golf Players In The World: Men vs. Women

When we look at the global number of golf players, it is often interesting to dig deeper into the playing demographics, especially regarding men and women playing the game. The greater television exposure of LPGA events has made the women’s game one of the fastest-growing sectors in the golf industry worldwide.

According to the National Golf Foundation, only about 24% of golf players in the USA that play on the course are women, and their numbers have been steady at around the 6 million mark over the last few years.

Interestingly enough, the off-course numbers are closer to a 50/50 split, with brands like TopGolf enticing ladies to come in and experience the game in a non-competitive environment, yielding dividends.

While actual numbers of female golfers globally are sketchy at best, the consensus is that about 25% of adult golfers in the US and the UK are women globally, which could be as high as 40%.

This would constitute a golf population of around 15 million lady golfers worldwide, but this is growing yearly as more organizations like the LPGA actively encourage more women to take up the game.

With more and more facilities and courses becoming aware that the ladies’ golf market offers the best opportunity for growing the game, they are making every effort to attract more ladies to experience the game for themselves.

Let’s Wrap This Up!

Golf is a growing sport in 2022, and thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, it saw record participation in the game and the retail sector in 2021, with major brands reporting bumper months in the summer in the USA.

With more than 66 million golf players globally and this number growing all the time as more people recognize the social and health benefits of the game, golf is in a healthy state.

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