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Study Reveals the Motivations and Preferences Keeping Golfers on the Course, as Well as How Technology is Making it Easier to Play More

Over Three-Quarters of Golfers Surveyed Plan to Play at Least 5 Rounds in the Coming Year – Increasing to 78% Among Ages 18-34 and 35-54, and a Whopping 90% Among GolfNow Users

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2024)NBC Sports Next, the world’s largest provider of golf course technology and services, has taken a deep dive to find out what is driving recreational golf’s popularity and participation in the U.S. to an all-time high. Results from its first-ever golf consumer insights study were unveiled today at the 2024 PGA Show in Orlando, Fla., revealing golfer attitudes and behaviors, as well as motivations influencing their participation in the sport now and into the future.

The information presented in The New Era of Golf consumer insights study was collected by surveying more than 4,000 golfers from all corners of the U.S. between Oct. 19-30, 2023. The survey respondents were equally represented among men and women, as well as across age demographics. They were asked to share their golfing habits and preferences – on and off the golf course – over the past year (Oct. 19, 2022, to Oct. 18, 2023). Additionally, the study revealed that nearly 20% of the respondents were also users of GolfNow, NBC Sports Next’s tee-time booking service, which illustrated some interesting comparisons.

Results from the study supports current data from the National Golf Foundation that golf is very much alive and well. According to the NGF, total U.S. golf participation eclipsed 40 million for the first time in 2022, while more than a third of the total U.S. population having played, watched, read about, or engaged with golf content on social media.

Overall, the golfers surveyed said they love playing golf and want to play more in the coming year. More than 35% of the golfers surveyed played at least five rounds of golf over the past year, with the vast majority having played mostly with family and friends. Some additional highlights from the survey include:

At the Golf Course:

    • More than 50% of the golfers surveyed like to play a variety of golf courses
    • Nearly 50% are willing to play in extreme weather conditions, including temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Three-quarters regularly spent money at the golf course, in addition to the cost of their round, with more than half saying they purchased food and beverages
    • A third said they took a lesson over the past year, increasing to more than two-thirds among GolfNow users
    • Nearly half used a golf simulator at the course, if available, increasing to 68% among GolfNow users
    • More than 50% said that a well-maintained driving range and practice putting green are important

Off the Golf Course:

    • 49% of golfers surveyed visited a golf entertainment venue over the past year, increasing to 75% among GolfNow users
    • 79% said they watched instructional videos to help improve their golf game, increasing to 96% among GolfNow users
    • 65% said they like to play golf on vacation and 43% traveled to play golf this past year, with more than half of all golfers saying they traveled to locations in the continental U.S.

The study also revealed that golfers are adopting technology like never before, including how they book golf. When asked about their online booking behavior, more than 30% said they booked at least one round of golf online or through an app in the past year, noting the quickness, ease of search, and simple payment processing. They also like the option of pre-payment for tee times, ordering food and beverages in advance, and using GPS, scoring, or gaming features online.

With the largest online tee-time booking platform in the golf industry, NBC Sports Next through its GolfNow and TeeOff brands provide technology and services to more than 11,000 golf courses worldwide. Since pre-pandemic (2019) to the present, GolfNow has seen a 40% increase in rounds booked across its ecosystem, having facilitated more than 25 million rounds booked in 2023, nearly a 4% year-over-year increase – demonstrating that golf’s popularity continues to grow after the boom it experienced during the pandemic. Percentages for unique bookers, new bookers, as well as people returning to the game also increased. Golf courses also are adopting technology in record numbers, with installations of NBC Sports Next golf course management technology setting an all-time high in 2023. Revenue generated for NBC Sports Next partner golf courses exceeded $1.04 billion in 2023, including $450 million from GolfNow, alone.

Demographics of Survey Respondents

Among the 4,000-plus golfers participating in the survey, 67% have been playing golf for more than four years. 50% were male, 49% women and 1% non-binary; 34% were between the ages of 35-54 and 34% 55-plus, with 32% Ages18-24. 49% reported having a household income under $60,000, 29% between $60,000-$99,000, and 22% over $100,000. 38% live in the South, 23% in the Midwest, 20% in the West, and 19% in the Northeast.

The entire New Era of Golf consumer insights study is available to download here at NBC Sports Next.

About NBC Sports Next

NBC Sports Next is a subdivision of NBC Sports and home to all NBCUniversal digital applications in sports and technology within Golf and Youth & Recreational Sports. Known for its sports technology product innovation, NBC Sports Next equips more than 30 million players, coaches, athletes, sports administrators and fans in 40 countries with more than 25 sports solution products, including GolfNow, the leading online tee time marketplace and provider of golf course operations technology and services; GolfPass, ultimate golf membership that connects golfers to exclusive content, tee time credits, coaching, tips and other benefits; and SportsEngine, the industry leader in youth sports club, league and team management technology and youth sports editorial content. NBC Sports Next is fueled by its mission to innovate, create larger-than-life events and connect with sports fans through technology to provide the ultimate in immersive experiences.

-NBC Sports Next-