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National Golf Foundation

The National Golf Foundation is the most trusted and preeminent provider of market research, marketing databases, business insights and programs that support every segment of the industry.

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GolfSAT – Explained






NGF’s GolfSAT platform is a golfer satisfaction survey that enables participating courses to compare satisfaction measures against benchmarks of similarly-priced properties nationwide.







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Par 3 Proportion of New Course Openings






While Par 3 courses account for only about 4% of national supply, they represented almost one-third of the limited amount of new development in the U.S. in 2021 (and 16% over the past decade).

Short courses have been touted in recent years as a way to satisfy a wider range of golfers – offering shorter, more engaging options for players of all skill levels. The openings in 2021 came at private, daily fee and resort properties.

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A Closer Look at Golf’s Retention Problem






Over the past five years, almost 14 million beginners have played golf on a course for the first time in the U.S.

And yet, over that same period, golf's participation base — the overall "sea level" — has increased by about 1.3 million, even with the influx of returners in addition to beginners due to the pandemic. The ability to retain (and convert trials to committed golfers) has been golf's Achilles heel for some time now.

Off-course forms of golf may contribute positively to the game's retention rate. Golf entertainment in particular leads to more confidence and competence, with NGF research …

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Golfer Inflow & Outflow






Golf has a noteworthy annual "churn," with beginners and returning players (inflow) offset by those who leave the game (outflow) due to failed trials, mortality and morbidity, life changes, or simply because they weren't hooked.

The past two years have been outliers due to the coronavirus, with extremes for those who turned and returned to golf as well as those who left the game.

In 2021, the number of beginners (3.2M) and former players who returned to the game after at least a year away (2.4M) was 14% higher than 2019, the year before the pandemic. The 5.3M Americans who left the game …

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Beginning Golfer Makeup






Females and juniors account for a higher proportion of beginning golfers than they do among the overall U.S. on-course golfer population.

As this graphic indicates, women and girls accounted for 37% of those who played on a golf course for the first time in 2021. By comparison, females make up 25% of the 25.1 million on-course golfers overall.

Juniors comprised 31% of beginners in 2021. Overall, kids between the ages of 6 and 17 accounted for 12% of U.S. on-course golf participants.

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