THE PGA of Australia is trumpeting new official figures it says show a significant increase in the latest golf participation rates.
The figures, released as part of the Australian Sports Commission’s annual Exercise, Recreation and Sport Survey (ERASS), rank golf as the most popular club-based activity for 2008.
The PGA says total golf participation increased in 2008 by more than 260,000 – an incredible 29% increase from 2007.
“With every year that passes more and more Australians are realising both the health and social benefits derived from visiting their local golf course,” said Max Garske, CEO of the PGA of Australia.
“Through our vast network of PGA members across Australia and around the word the PGA’s mission is to promote the game of golf to the masses- and we are extremely pleased to see that over 1.1 million Australian’s enjoyed a round of golf during 2008.”
With a total participation rate of 1,181,100 throughout 2008, golf topped tennis, football and netball on the list of the most popular club-based physical activities for Australians.
Golf also ranked second on the ERASS Top Ten Organised Physical Activities list behind only aerobics/ fitness.
The PGA said for the first time golf has eclipsed the total participation of tennis since the 2002 ERASS survey period.
“Golf is an accessible sport that can be played by all Australians regardless of age, sex, socio-economic background or skill level and the latest ERASS results demonstrate this,” added Garske.
While the 2008 figures are indeed satisfying for the PGA and the entire Australian Golf Industry, Garske says he wouldn’t be surprised if participation numbers were to jump even higher at the conclusion of the 2009 survey period.
“Many of our PGA Members servicing local golf clubs and growing the game have indicated that rounds of golf have been on the increase in the last few months,” he said.
“Typically the biggest concern for golfers is not finding enough time to play a few holes on a regular basis. But the current economic situation has created more leisure time for many Australians.”
“Traditionally as the unemployment rate rises, so to does demand for tee times.”
Garske said the PGA in cooperation with the entire Australian Golf Industry are working on several initiatives to facilitate further increases in golf participation, including the launch of a new national junior golf program, Pumpgolf, made possible by the PGA’s partnership with Coca-Cola Amatil.
Whilst the full ERASS report does point to some significant gains for golf in recent years, looking at the overall statistics since 2001 is not as positive. While golf had an overall decline in participation of 5 percent since 2001, tennis was down a massive 19 percent overall. (The reason we haven’t highlighted golf “overtaking” tennis here.)
Another issue to consider with the report we believe is how well golf compares to some overall “more popular” activities such as “non organised” “walking” and “swimming”.
There’s a big difference in personal commitment and input when you consider popping out for a walk or taking a dip compared to organising yourself (and maybe others) for 18 holes of golf.
The full ERASS 2008 report is here.