Often considered a sport for retirees, golf now attracts all generations

·3-min read
The pandemic has led to increased use of golf courses all over the world.

The pandemic has increased attendance at golf courses around the world. While the market for equipment sales has never been better, some brands are beginning to offer affordable ranges, a sign of growing interest.

A bucket of 15 small white balls, a club and a cap to protect yourself from the sun. On greens around the world, greater numbers of golf enthusiasts are showing up. But while the number of private club members is declining (as an example, the French Golf Federation reported 15,570 fewer members in 2020), the courses themselves are experiencing record occupancy rates.

According to the 2021 World Golf Report on the sports equipment market, "Golf equipment sales have exploded [after the first half of 2020], and even countries that were severely impacted by the shutdown in early 2020 had record months during the summer and continue to show a positive trend," said John Krzynowek, a partner at Golf Datatech. In 2020, the global market is recording a 3% increase over the previous year. The independent media Jeudegolf.org hails an "exceptional year for golf in the world."

The pandemic has had a beneficial effect on the sport. Between lockdowns and curfew periods, golf courses were one of the only places where sporting activities were allowed.

Younger players and more affordable practice
Golf is attracting more young people. Although no study has been done to prove it yet, it is expanding to other profiles than the upper socio-professional categories. Is golf no longer solely a "rich man's sport"?

The United States has many golf courses, the majority of which are accessible to the public. The sport is largely democratized there, where general quality-price ratios offer golfers an experience within their means. In Europe, the view is changing. The image of inaccessible private clubs is evaporating and it would seem that a similar democratization is underway. A first clue: the German discount brand Lidl has been selling a range of golf items since last July in France at affordable prices: shoes for 22 euros, a bag for 119 euros or polo shirts for 13 euros (count about 100 euros for shoes, nearly 200 euros for a bag in specialized stores).

In Asia, the new generations are emancipating themselves from the view of their elders. Golf is no longer reserved only for high social status players.

Strong attendance in Asia
The real revolution has been taking place in this region of the world over the past five years. China, Japan, Thailand and Singapore are investing in infrastructure and more and more people are taking up the game. Considered a real tourist asset, Thai golf courses move players from around the world to its greens. In 2019, Thailand was the third destination in the world for golfers thanks to the variety of its landscapes.

Japan and South Korea have since won over many new players, with the two countries being the second and third largest markets in the world, according to the World Golf Report 2021. Japan accounts for two-thirds of the global equipment sales market along with the United States, while Koreans spend the most on equipment.
Such is the popularity in South Korea that to overcome tee time issues at busy courses, players meet at night for late-night golf games.

Louis Bolla

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