England leads the way in ‘registered golfers’ but is one of 15 countries to have experienced decline
By Michael McEwan
A new report into European golf has shown that 15 countries suffered a decline in ‘registered golfers’ from 2014 to 2015.
The 2016 KPMG Golf Participation Report for Europe has found that the number of registered across the Continent fell by 0.3% from 4,154,863 to 4,142,661 in that period, with emerging golf nations - such as Lithuania, Bulgaria and Estonia - helping to offset losses experienced by more established golfing nations.
England continues to have the highest number of registered golfers, with 661,805. However, that is down by 2.4% (16,567) on 2014. Spain has seen its number fall 2.2% to 277,782, whilst Ireland, Australia, Italy, Wales and Portugal have also experienced losses.
There will be particular cause for alarm in Wales, where there was almost 5% of a difference from 2014 to 2015, a drop of 2,350.
Sweden, by comparison, enjoyed growth of 4.6% in the same time period. Its total number of registered golfers rose by almost 20,000, from just under 436,000 to almost 456,000.
Switzerland, Belgium and Poland also experienced growth. However, by the biggest improvements have been identified in eastern Europe. Between them, Estonia, Russia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Lithuania, as well as Moldova, Azerbaijan and Armenia, have registered over 1,000 new golfers in that time.
The report also showed that there are 7,097 courses in Europe, not including par-3 courses, academy courses or ‘pitch & putts’.
Of Europe’s established golfing nations, Scotland also continues to have the most courses per capita, with 8,710 residents per course. That’s as compared with 28,029 per course in England, 22,022 per course in Sweden and 107,209 per course in Spain.
Across Europe, a total of 40 new courses opened between 2014 and 2015, with 22 closing. England and Ireland accounted for half ofthose closures, losing six and five courses respectively.
The Netherlands had the most new courses open for play, with eight.
Other noteworthy results showed that adult males account for two-thirds of the total number of registered golfers in Europe. Adult women account for a quarter, with the remaining 9% made up of juniors. Meanwhile, the proportion of the European population who actively played golf in 2015 was 0.9%.