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NGF report shows lower participation rates in 2002

NGF report shows lower participation rates in 2002

JUPITER, Fla. – On the heels of its 2002 rounds played survey, the National Golf Foundation released its forecast for participation in 2003, which continues the trend of less than hopeful news coming out of the golf industry.

According to the “Golf Participation in the U.S., 2003” report, the number of total participants fell 1.1 percent to 36.7 million. The NGF said this was mainly driven by a 36.2 percent decrease in the use of golf ranges and alternative short courses.

These downturns overshadowed a 38.6 percent rise in the number of junior golfers (age five to 17) and a 1.6 percent rise in the number of golfers 18 and over. The NGF defines golfers as those who have played at least one regulation round of golf in the last 12 months.

The slide in the number of best customers, defined as those who either play 25 or more rounds a year or who are members of households that spend more than $1,000 a year on golf, may be of particular concern to the industry. In 2002, there were 8.9 million of these best customers (34 percent of total golfers) who accounted for 80 percent of the golf spending in the United States. This number was down 9 percent from the 2001 total of 9.8 million, which represented 40 percent of all golfers.

The NGF’s participation report may also provide some insight into the drop in the total number of rounds played last year. The number of avid golfers (those who played 25 or more rounds a year) fell for the second straight year, which the NGF said likely fueled the drop in 2002 rounds played numbers.

One segment of the population that could contribute to future growth is women. Currently, only one-quarter of all golf participants are women.

Copyright United Publications, Inc. Jun 2003

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