As we reported last year, the U.S. golf industry saw a surge in participation in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. That momentum carried into 2021, with the total number of rounds played across the U.S. increasing about 5% over the prior year and around 20% over recent pre-pandemic years. (1) Gen Z and younger millennials made up 27 percent of new golfers; women accounted for 33%. (2) The sport is thriving, and the changing face of the typical golf player is driving some changes on and off the course.
Faster Play Time
With family and work commitments, many new players balk at the idea of spending an entire day playing a round. A growing trend in course design is for shorter holes and fewer holes per course – say 6 or 9. (3) A player can knock out the course on a weeknight and still have time to relax with their buddies on the 19th hole (well 7th or 10th hole).
Shorter courses are great for beginners, too, who may get frustrated with longer, more challenging designs. Many properties are getting creative with their offerings to make the sport less intimidating for beginners. For example, a Five after Five event creates the opportunity to play a shorter round of five quick holes after work. The format is also perfect for those with a busy schedule or even those looking for a quick date night idea. (4)
A public golf course wanted to get more women involved in the sport. They developed a free 8-week clinic that met for a few hours every Tuesday night. Participants received instruction, practice time, use of clubs, and a swag bag with some golf-related gear, including a Koozie® Triple Vacuum Tumbler – 13 oz. Item #46173C. Following the clinic, the course tracked the new players for the rest of the season and discovered that 53% of them continued to play on their property. In fact, many of the women kept coming on Tuesday night to continue building the friendships they formed during the clinic. Plus, the course got so many comments on the Koozie® Triple Vacuum Tumbler, that they added it to their retail offerings.
Players now have plenty of off-course opportunities in addition to hitting the links. Driving range / bar / restaurant venues like Topgolf offer surroundings that are fun, friendly, and comfortable – a far cry from the country club. The experience is meant to be entertaining and enjoyable for everyone and it shows. Over half of Topgolf’s audience is between 18–34 years old. (6) And, women make up over 40% of off-course golfers as opposed to just 25% of on-course players, maybe because the atmosphere is less intimidating and can more easily be enjoyed with friends and family. (7)
Golf entertainment facilities are also extremely popular for get-togethers and events of all sizes. Most are set up to handle everything from holiday parties to team-building initiatives or bachelor/bachelorette parties. And they sell plenty of merch out of their “pro shops” to players who want to remember the occasion.
Fun for the Whole Family
Women and younger golfers are much more likely to make golf a family affair. These golfers need the flexibility to bring young children with them on a weekend outing or have family-friendly programming available for older kids. If considering a club membership, they look for amenities that accommodate even the non-golfers in their clan, like a fitness area or dining facilities. (8)
As adult golfers involve their families in the sport, the ranks of junior golfers are becoming more diverse than ever. Today more than one-third of these players are female, compared to 15% in 2000, and more than one-quarter are non-Caucasian, compared to just 6% over two decades ago. (9) This trend bodes well for the long-term health of the industry and provides ample opportunity for youth clinics, tournaments, and leagues and the use of promotional items for these events.
With a growing number of younger players and females joining the ranks of this traditional sport, it seems that the future is bright for golf – and so is the future of golf promos! Visit kooziegroup.com to shop hundreds of golf promotional products that will get your clients noticed both on and off the course.