English golf surges in popularity


Sean Dudley

The number of people in England playing golf at least once a week is up by over 69,000 compared with six months ago. 

The surge in popularity is shown by the latest figures from Sport England’s Active People Survey and reflects a growing national enthusiasm for sport as the London Olympics draw near. 

For the first time, more than 15 million people in England aged 16 and over, are playing sport once a week, every week. That’s 500,000 more than six months ago and 1.3 million more than in 2005/6 when London won the Olympic bid. 

Golf is among 21 sports which have shown a positive trend over the past six months and the results indicate that the long-term, downward trend in golf participation may be reversing.

The sport is reaping the benefit of the work of the England Golf Partnership (EGP) and its network of County Golf Partnerships which reach out at grass roots level to attract new golfers and returners to the game.

Roger Moreland, the partnership’s chief operating officer, said: “Golf is heading in the right direction. The results are encouraging and reflect the hard work of all those working within the grassroots game.

“We have responded to earlier, disappointing results by understanding the needs of golfers and developing improved plans to keep people playing regularly. But there is still more work to be done, particularly to encourage young adults.” 

Sandy Jones, the chief executive of the PGA, remarked: “I was delighted to learn of such a significant increase in the number of people who are enjoying golf on a regular basis.

“I know our PGA professionals in clubs and golf ranges throughout the country work really hard to encourage more people to enjoy the game and these numbers give evidence that this hard work is producing positive results for their efforts.”