Golf Industry Facts
Our NGF researchers have measured the health and vitality of the U.S. golf industry for more than 80 years. Through the support of our members, we’re able to provide golf’s stakeholders with accurate and timely information that helps everyone in golf become smarter about the industry in which they operate.
Golf participation is a core measure of golf’s vitality. NGF closely tracks how many people play the game, as well as the demographic composition of America's golf consumer base.
Golf's overall reach is an estimated
– one out of every three Americans age 6+ -
played golf (on-course or off-course), followed golf on television or online, read about the game, or listened to a golf-related podcast in 2021.
The record number of people who played on a golf course for the first time in 2021:
The industry has had eight straight years with more than 2 million beginners, with the past two topping 3 million. Prior to the pandemic-boosted totals of 2020 and 2021, the previous recorded-high of 2.4 million was set in 2000, when Tiger Woods was at the height of his popularity. Retention and conversion to committed players remains an industry focus, and obstacle.
The category of young adults (18-34 year olds) is among the sport's biggest customer age segments, with
on-course participants and another
off-course only participants.
The engagement within this demographic has remained steady for nearly a decade. Interest in playing among non-golfing young adults is high, with more than 5 million saying they are "very interested" in taking up the game.
0 Million Juniors
played golf on a course in 2021, remaining steady after a 24% increase in 2020 that was the largest since 1997. This segment remains more diverse than the overall golf population.
More than one-third
of today's juniors are girls compared to 15% in 2000. More than one-quarter of juniors are non-Caucasian while just 6% were minority participants just over 20 years ago.
There were approximately
0 Million Female On-Course Golfers
(age 6+) in 2021.
The number of female golfers (adult and junior) has surpassed 6 million the past two years for the first time since prior to the financial crisis in 2007.
of on-course golfers are women. Females represent a disproportionately higher percentage of beginners (37%), juniors (36%) and off-course participants (44%) than they do in the overall golf population.
people who didn’t play golf in 2021 said they are "very interested" in playing golf on a golf course.
The almost 20% increase in this pool of potential golfers over the past five years is attributable in part to the growth and popularity of off-course golf. Almost half of this untapped demand is comprised of "lapsed golfers" who played on a course previously, but not within the past year, while the rest are those who never played golf on a course before.
There are over 42 million more who say they are "somewhat interested" in playing.
Play increased significantly in the U.S. in 2020 and 2021.
Last year's increase over 2020’s pandemic-driven total was about +5%. The biggest driver was the 2021 spring rebound, with almost 30 million more rounds played in March and April than the previous year, when more than half of the nation's courses were temporarily closed due to coronavirus-related restrictions.
While 2021 play didn’t quite keep pace with second-half surges in 2020, rounds still finished up 19% versus the three-year average from 2017-19.
Golf Course Supply
Since our start in 1936, we’ve kept tabs on every golf course in the U.S. As the go-to source of golf supply information, our team verifies golf courses every day, identifying which are open, which closed and any new projects in development. Not only do stakeholders benefit from knowing how many golf courses there are, they also get insight into the balance of public and private golf in the U.S., playing fees and more.
There were more than
0 Golf Courses at
0 Golf Facilities
in the U.S. at the end of 2021. That's more golf courses nationwide than Starbucks or McDonald's stores.
(a facility is defined as a business location where golf can be played on one or more golf courses).