England Golf’s strategy to grow the game has inspired over 640,000 people to take up the sport in the last four years and more than 44,000 to join clubs.
The growth was notably rapid in 2016/17, with over 237,000 new players and almost 17,000 new members recorded in the year to the end of March.
Forty per cent of all new participants are female, highlighting the appetite for the game among women and girls.
The figures are revealed in England Golf’s latest Impact Report, which reviews the success of support for clubs provided by the county network, with the help of national partners.
Sharon Heeley, England Golf’s Head of Delivery, commented: “It’s very pleasing to report these results and we are looking forward to even greater successes in the future.
“We now have Club Support Officers in all counties whose role is to listen to and understand the business needs of clubs and help them to achieve their aims. Our refreshed strategy to grow the game of golf in England puts the customer at the heart of everything we do and we’re encouraging clubs to take the same approach.''
“We can help them to understand their market and the importance of providing their customers with the golfing experience they want, whether that’s competitive play, social golf, short format golf which fits into busy lifestyles, or the opportunity to meet friends and make new ones.”
England Golf’s business support has been used extensively, with over 1300 decision makers from 750 clubs attending Business Growth Hubs and demand-led workshops during the last year. A growing number of clubs are using resources to understand their market, including mapping tools which show where to find potential customers, who can then be targeted with effective marketing campaigns.
England Golf’s strategy also has an over-arching aim to increase the number of women and girls playing golf. Women currently account for just 15% of club membership and the Impact Report details the success of initiatives to attract them to try the game.
In the last two years, over 10,000 have taken part in women-only Get into golf programmes which have created over 2000 new members. Girls Golf Rocks, the recruitment programme supported by girl county players, was run in nine counties last year with 624 girls introduced to golf and over 230 joining clubs. This year Girls Golf Rocks is running in 15 counties. In addition, Family Golf Month was introduced last July and helped to get over 7300 people playing, with almost 200 taking out memberships.
Other facts highlighted by the Impact Report show that over 180,000 people took part in Get into golf activities over the last four years with over 22,500 memberships created. The Golf Express campaign, which promotes short format golf, has involved over 32,000 golfers since 2015.
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