Jan 24th, 2017
Shot in the arm for English Golf Clubs
As member numbers boomed in 2016
Words: John Dean Photography: Kevin Murray
English golf clubs saw an unexpected boom in their collective number of members in 2016, according to new figures from Sport England.
While golf participation is still struggling, and the number of people who play golf at least once a week fell slightly last year, English golf clubs saw their biggest rise in members this century.
For most of the last 15 years membership has fallen, reaching a low of 442,500 in 2013. That figure climbed steadily to an average of 488,000 for the period October 2014 to October 2015.
It then shot up to 520,600 for the period October 2015 to October 2016.
The percentage of golfers in England who are now members of clubs is more than 46, which is dramatically up from less than 37 in 2011.
This suggests that although fewer people are playing golf, those who take up the game are now more likely to join a club than at any point in the last seven years.
The number of people in England aged 16 and over who play golf once a month has also increased in the last year from 1.09 million to 1.31 million, the highest figure since 2012, although still well below 1.54 million achieved in 2008.
Weekly participation for people aged 14 and over fell from 747,100 to 736,000 in the last year, now equalling its all time low recorded in 2014.
The Active People Study research also shows the number of women playing sport generally is at an all time high.
More than seven million women now play sport and do regular physical activity, 250,000 more than when Sport England launched its This Girl Can campaign. This means that the gender gap, which once stood at over two million, has now narrowed to 1.55 million.
Jennie Price, Sport England chief executive, said: “These figures are really encouraging, especially the substantial increase in the number of women playing sport and being active every week.
“Our This Girl Can campaign set out to tackle the gender gap, so to reduce it significantly in just two years shows we are making a difference.”