Golf is growing on and off the course — and business is booming

Golf is going mainstream, thanks to increased participation on and off the course.

Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

The last time golf experienced a spike in participation, a young whippersnapper named Tiger Woods had just won his 1st major championship.

Now the sport is in the midst of another renaissance — both on and off the course, per CNBC.

On the course…

… more people are playing the game than pre-pandemic:

  • 24.8m+ people played at least 1 round of golf in the US in 2020, a 2%+ increase YoY (the biggest jump in 17 years)
  • Beginner participation increased by the largest margin since 1997

But it’s more than just the pandemic forcing people outside — through July 2021, the number of rounds played was up 16.1% from 2020, proving the trend has staying power.

Off the course…

… there are more ways to enjoy the game than ever before, including:

  • TopGolf, which offers a gamified driving range experience with food and drinks, has seen a 30% growth rate since 2017
  • Indoor golf is on the rise thanks to simulator technology, allowing people to play indoors year-round

Between TopGolf, indoor golf, and traditional driving ranges, another 12.1m people enjoyed the game last year without having to book a tee time.

Golf manufacturers and retailers are reaping the benefits

In the first half of fiscal 2021, Acushnet, which operates brands like Titleist and FootJoy, saw sales pop by 75% in the US. Dick’s Sporting Goods also called out golf as a major growth area in a recent earnings call.

With the PGA working on a Netflix documentary series modeled after Formula 1’s “Drive to Survive,” this could be just the beginning.

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