Good and bad news in the 2013 Australian Golf Participation report

Over a million Australians played golf in 2013, but half of Australian golf clubs are in financial trouble.

Golf Australia have released the 2013 National Golf Participation Report – essentially a summary of the state of the game in Australia.

The report includes information such as golf participation numbers across the country, golfer demographics, club membership and how these numbers have changed compared to 2012.

The press release outlined some of the key findings from the report:

Image source: 2013 National Golf Participation Report.
  • There were 1.18 million Australians who played at least one round of golf during the year. Two out of every three of those players were not club golfers and play social golf instead.
  • There were 398,804 golf club members last year with 60 per cent of that club membership base aged 55 years and over.
  • Female members made up 21 per cent of the total membership base.
  • There was a 1.6% decline in club playing members.
  • 18 per cent of clubs reported membership growth of more than 10 per cent in 2013.
  • Five per cent of club members are juniors.
  • 51% of Australian clubs have less than 100 members.
  • 50% of clubs are under financial duress.

There is a lot to like from the report, but also some worrying signs.

The ageing membership base is hugely worrying but perhaps of even more concern (and possibly related) is the financial strain some of the golf clubs are under.

Many in the golf industry have warned about this for some time and clubs need to adjust their ways or risk disappearing altogether.

Golf Australia Golf Development Director Cameron Wade addressed some of the issues in the media release including the decline in membership and the lower rates of participation in the younger age groups (15-24 and 25-34).

“Despite a 6 per cent overall decline in club membership since 2010, approximately 10 per cent of golf clubs have experienced a net increase in membership in the last 12 month period,” Wade said.

“In these age groups, people have a lot of recreational activities competing for their time. Golf is one of those activities but it needs to recognise it has to offer something innovative to capture their attention,” Wade said.

“There are a lot of young families in the latter age group. Flexibility is one of the key factors there – it’s more difficult now for people to commit to several hours on the golf course. Together the industry needs to work on ways to provide that flexibility while maintaining the club’s financial health,” Wade added.

The full 2013 National Golf Participation Report is available download.

Key findings from the 2013 National Golf Participation Report.


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