Bad news for Australian golf clubs

Club golfers
Photo: Queensland Outback Masters, 2018 Golf Club Participation Report of Australia

DESPITE the fact that people are actually playing more golf overall, the bad news for Australian golf clubs is that the downward spiral in club member numbers continues.

The latest national golf club participation report was released this week and it revealed a continuation of the trend of players not formally joining clubs to play their golf.

Club membership is the foundation and lifeblood of most clubs and the downward spiral is why so many clubs, particularly in regional areas, are struggling to stay afloat.

According to the report, which covers the 2018 period, Western Australia (+1.7%) and South Australia (+0.1%) were the only states to buck the trend. All eastern states and the Northern Territory (-1%) were down on previous membership rates, with an overall 1.6% decrease in the past year.

History shows that golf club membership numbers peaked in Australia in 1998 at approximately 500,000 golfers, and there has been a steady decline since.

“These numbers reflect the broader challenges facing traditional sports from a range of societal and demographic pressures, primarily in available recreation time,” Golf Australia’s general manager of golf development David Gallichio said.

“Despite this, club golf remains vital to regional communities and it’s still the most popular club sport for adults in Australia.”

Rounds of competition golf, as recorded by GolfLINK, rose 1.5% to 10,321,659 in 2018, consistent with a five-year trend. The average competition rounds per member in 2014 was 25.6; that had risen to 26.9 by 2018.

The annual Ausplay survey estimated that 945,900 adults played golf in the past year, equating to 4.9% of the population aged 15 and older.

The sixth of its kind, the report provides annual figures and trends on membership, competition rounds, general participation and specific program participation.

The 2018 report highlights that of the 383,613 members nationally, 212,047 were from regional areas and 149,420 from metropolitan zones.

Average age of club members is 57, junior numbers decline

The importance of older golfer participation remains with the average age of club members across Australia at 57 years. (56 years for men and the average female age of 64 years)

Unfortunately, at the other end of the scale the number of reported junior members continues to decline.

Reported junior members (under the age of 18) totalled 12,778, representing a decline of 5.5% (746 members) over 2017. Similar levels of decline were evident for both metropolitan and regional clubs. By gender, total national junior boy numbers declined by 7.6%, with the most significant decline evident in NSW at 7.9%

Click HERE to view the full report.

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