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May OtR: ’22 Golf Consumer Base up for 3rd Consecutive Year!

Volume 22 Issue 05

2022 Golf Consumer Franchise:
Third consecutive growth year!

The results are in from our annual May ritual of analyzing and releasing the “Pellucid version” of the National Sporting Goods Association’s (NSGA) consumer survey on participation, frequency and New-to-Sport (NtS) attraction for golf.  That marks a 3rd consecutive year of growth in the golfer base and a cumulative gain of ~2.3M golfers from the ’19 base level when the downward trend was first reversed.  While the growth (happily) continues, the dynamics of that growth are changing from an influx of NtS (’20) to higher rates of retention and returning golfers (’21-’22).  We’re also seeing a gradual rotation of golf’s demographics back to the pre-COVID, older, more affluent, less-diverse profile suggesting that the sport’s appeal still has some gravitational-like pull based in discretionary time, money and tradition.

True to our historical form in analyzing the golfer base, we’ll look at the three indicators of size, demographics and involvement through the lens of the ’22 results and what significantly changed from the ’21 values:

  • Size – We had a net gain in ’22 of ~900K (wow!) with the golfer base eclipsing 22M (excluding NGF’s entertainment and virtual golfers dimension) for the first time since ’13 (on our previous way down to our nadir of ~20M golfers). In the full issue, we’ll further outline the key metrics of Play Rate (rds per capita) and its component measures of Participation and Frequency (rds/golfer/yr) Rates
  • Demographics – The golfer base gains were led by males, the 35-54 lifestage (which we term Mid-career) and the $100K+ income groups; the notable, and encouraging, shift being the gain by Gen X whereas previously gains have been led by the Silent/Baby Boomer generations
  • Involvement – The distribution of golfers across our 4 involvement levels (Singles, Casuals, Involveds, Committeds) was relatively steady as our preferred measure of engagement (% of golfers in Involved + Committed) was 51.0% in ’22, down from 51.5% in ‘21

This is just the tip of the iceberg for facts and findings from the ’22 golfer survey; for our subscribers, read on to get all the details, what’s changing and implications for our industry and your business in ’23 and beyond.  For everyone else, you can get the rest of the story one of three ways:

  1. Subscribe to the Pellucid Publications Membership for $495/yr (most comprehensive coverage & detail) - Annual subscribers get access to the following:
    • Outside the Ropes monthly digital newsletter (including this issue for starters!)
    • Annual State of the Industry report portfolio (PowerPoint presentation, PDF commentary report, access to Jim/Stuart video of presentation)
    • Geographic Weather Impact Tracking (US, 45 regions, 61 markets) or Cognilogic for Golf Playable Hours/Capacity Rounds for individual facilities
    • National Consumer Franchise Health Scorecard (expanded data and tables underlying this issue's summary figures)
  2. Subscribe to OtR, 12 monthly issues for $130/yr with a money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied at any time during your subscription. Subscribers also get access to the historical archive of past issues (last two years) via the members-only section of the Pellucid website
  3. Subscribe to Golf Market Research Center (for operators wanting a combination of insights and action tools) – In addition to an OtR subscription (hence, this issue), you’ll get the State of the Industry presentation along with the full suite of Performance Tracking reports and weather impact services (Cognilogic for historical Golf Playable Hours/Capacity Rds, Foresight for the 60-day forecast for your facility location for Capacity Rds and daily key weather forecast variables)


As always, we appreciate your support and partnership on our journey to help intelligent industry stakeholders make better-informed decisions, unbiased by industry dreams, hopes and "spin."

Jim K.


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