Participation In Golf By Juniors

April 2014
Jim Lee (British Columbia Golf)

Almost everyone who takes golf seriously agrees that the future of the game of golf  lies with developing new junior golfers. After all, as our current golfers age and drop out of the game, we need to replace them with younger golfers who will (hopefully) stay with the game over a longer time frame. 

So how are we doing with bringing youth into the game?

Using  data from the Print Measurement Bureau, participation in golf varies considerably by age segment.  Participation is defined as having played at least once in the previous 12 months. 11,2% of youth (12 to 17) participate in golf. Participation increases slightly among 18 to 24 year olds to 12.3% but the participation rate doesn't peak until the 50 - 64 age segment at 13.6%.

This data suggests that golfers are taking up the game later in life and that participation peaks in the post-family age segments at 13.6% but it remains relatively stable through middle age.  A decline at age 65 to 10.7% is significant as this is the age segment that the large baby-boom demographic is entering, and hopes are high in the golf industry that they will continue to golf.

Participation rates vary over time, following trends that are inherent in golf. Participation in golf across all ages has been declining in Canada, slipping from 15% to 12.6% between 2007 and 2012. The participation rate of youth 12 - 17 has been more variable on an annual basis since 2007 but the overall trend is a declining one particularly from its peak in 2007 at 14%. Participation recovered to a recent peak in 2011 at 12.4%, then declined to 11.2% in 2012. The reasons for this are unknown, but could be as simple as good weather or better economic conditions that impact the entire golf market.

As golfers who love the game, we need to work with our clubs to ensure that youth have the opportunity to learn and play the game.  With the other forms of activity (actually mainy not active at all) available to youth today, it is increasingly difficult to get their attention to try out the game.  As parents and grandparents we have the ability to influence our youth  and as club members we have the opportunity to get youth exposed to the game.