The number of people playing rounds of golf on municipal courses in the United Kingdom has declined dramatically over the last six years, according to a report from the Golf Research Group.
Since 1991, there has been a 30 per cent drop in municipal rounds and it seems that less golf is being played at private and proprietary clubs as well. While 520 new layouts have been opened for play in the UK since 1990, a 28 per cent increase in supply, the research suggests there are no more people playing the game than seven years ago.
In 1991, an average of more than 65,000 rounds were played at Britain’s 234 municipal layouts, 37,000 at proprietary courses and 30,000 at private clubs while last year those figures were down to around 50,000, 35,000 and 25,000. Proprietary courses have fared least badly because their newer greens and tees are constructed to improved modern standards.
The report, UK Municipal Golf, also looks at what the successful municipal courses have been doing during the last few years and is available for £245 from the Golf Research Group.
A new report based on a telephone survey of every golf course in the UK has just been published by the Golf Research Group.
A total of 2,407 courses were found and 34% were proprietary. The average course had 529 members which projects to a total a 1.17 million golf members in the UK. Almost two million are thought to play golf on a daily fees basis and are not members of a club. 14.7% were women and 7.4% juniors, although the LGU report their membership stands at more than 218,000.
Searches of company accounts showed that 76% of the newly built courses continue to be in financial danger (520 have been opened in the 1990’s) which is an improvement on two years ago when 88% were found to be in danger.
Sales of golf properties were at a record level last year with 42 courses sold for a total of £80 million. Colin Hegarty, of the Golf Research Group, said: “Certainly this type of money being put into golf is a major sign of investor confidence in the industry. On a bluer note it should be remembered that these new courses are going for 40p in the pound on their original development cost. Projecting this up, of the £2.5 billion spent on golf development in the 1990’s, 60% is likely to end up being lost.”
The report highlights the emergence of golf chains (see graph) which now account for 2% of UK courses.