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56 Million Golf Gamers... Let’s Get (some of) Them from the Console to the Course!
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American Golf Census
56 Million Golf Gamers... Let’s Get (some of) Them from the Console to the Course!

Every January since 1986, the NGF has surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 40,000 Americans to determine the number of golf participants.  We reported early in the year that the 2011 results yielded an estimate of 25.7 Million people (aged 6 and over) who played at least one round of golf.  This article reports on one area of interest that NGF examined for the first time this year: golf gamers.  With the proliferation of video game activity in modern culture, we suspected this would provide some useful new information… and we think we were right (but of course, you’ll be the judge of that). So, how many Americans played golf on a video game in 2011?

Turns out, there were approximately 56 Million people who played golf on a video game in 2011, more than double the number of golf participants. 

Not surprisingly, 40% of current golfers played golf on a video game (10.2MM); but more interesting were the 18% of non-golfers who played golf on a video game last year.  This equates to approximately 46 Million “golf gamers” who don’t currently play golf, a significant opportunity for conversion (illustrated below).  Nearly seven million of those non-golfing gamers were lapsed golfers with 39 million who have never played golf on a golf course before.    

Source: NGF National Participation Research

This begs the question… “Are these non-golfing golf gamers more interested in playing golf than others?”  The answer… YES! 

22% of non-golfing golf gamers are interested in playing golf now.  (They noted “Very” or “Somewhat interested” when asked about their interest in playing golf now). This compares to only 7% of their non-gaming counterparts.  NGF estimates there are approximately 10 Million individuals from the non-golfing, golf gamer set with un-activated demand for playing the real thing.  

Who are they?  They’re young - and females make up a more significant proportion than we are used to seeing in the current golfing population. 

As you can see in the table (at right), over half of the golf gamers are under the age of 30 (51%).  In fact, 29% are juniors (age 6-17) - this is why we also see the income distributions significantly lower and the Non-HS Grad percentage so high (30%).    

Of note is the fact that females make up 44% of golf gamers, a significantly higher proportion than we currently see in the golfing population where only 19% are female.

Golf gaming represents a promising gateway to growing participation among younger and female Americans.  The NGF and the PGA of America’s Golf 2.0 team will be looking at strategies to grow the golfer base by converting non golfers who have engaged with golf in both traditional and non-traditional ways.


Featured Report
Private Club Membership Finding a New Normal – Still Desirable to Golfers
New NGF research shows that the vulnerability of current private club memberships may have peaked – and lapsed club members who resigned memberships under the financial pressures of the past four-to-six years now appear to be reconsidering their non-member status.
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