Golf 20/20 Publishes Inaugural Golf Industry Report

Released on : July 25, 2002

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLA. July 25, 2002- GOLF 20/20, the golf industry initiative to enhance the growth of the game, has published its first annual Golf Industry Report, which takes a comprehensive look at the state of various aspects of the game in 2001. The report — known internally as the FRIP Report because it addresses Facilities, Rounds, Interest and Participation — is available in its entirety only on-line at

“The impetus for this project was the desire to measure the progress of our efforts to grow interest and participation in the game,” said Ruffin Beckwith, World Golf Foundation Senior Vice President. “At the same time, by looking at this information collectively we felt it would clarify opportunities and trends, and expose areas of concern, so that we can do a more effective job addressing the issues.”

Traditionally, the golf industry has used a variety of sources for information relating to performance and growth, most prominently the National Golf Foundation. The NGF continues to provide participation results and information on facility development, and has partnered with the National Golf Course Owners Association to measure rounds of golf. Information on interest comes from Nielsen Media Research, the PGA TOUR, ESPN Sports Poll and other sources. This report marks the first time all this information has been presented together, and it provides for more global perspectives.

Among the observations outlined in the report:

  • Interest levels continue to rise. PGA TOUR television ratings, often used as a benchmark for interest in the sport, are up 20% since 1996, more than any other sport (the only other sport with an increase over that period is NASCAR, at 5.8%). The percentage of respondents to an ESPN Sports Poll surveyclaiming to be fans of golf also has increased 20% from 1995 to 2001, far more than any other sport.
  • Demographically, there have been phenomenal increases in African-American fans and avid fans, but increases in interest in the Hispanic community have been less dramatic, presenting an opportunity for future growth.
  • There are some 35 million participants over the age of 12, according to the NGF’s Golf Participation in the U.S. study, yet the ESPN Sports Poll identifies 45 million people who consider themselves golfers. “We’ve talked for a number of years now about latent demand,” the report states. “There are 10 million people right there who are clearly not all that latent, and we need to go find them and help them become what they think they already are.”
  • New courses are opening at a decreasing rate as the marketplace adjusts to participation levels. The rate of new course openings in the past three years has gone from 3.2% to 2.1% to a projected 1.8% in 2002. However, given no change in rounds played between 2000 and 2001, the average number of rounds played per course went from 33,737 in 2000 to 33,000 in 2001.
  • The number of participants rose from 36 million in 2000 to 37.1 million in 2001, meeting the industry’s objective of adding one million participants per year between 2000 and 2020. But there was
    a smaller increase in the number of golfers, from 25.4 million to 25.8 million. Definitions of “participants” and “golfers” can be found at
  • Studies in 2001 indicate an increase in the number of occasional golfers (1-7 rounds per year), and a decrease in the number of core golfers (8-24 rounds) and in avid golfers (25+ rounds). Yet the average number of rounds played per golfer decreased by just one-third of a round, from 20.41 to 20.08.


The report concludes that given the economy, the events of September 11 and particularly the poor weather in several key parts of the country, 2001 more than held its own. Interest continued to grow, as did the number of participants and the number of golfers. But there was an apparent decrease in higher levels of participation, and that must be addressed.

The report was originally due out in May, but compiling information from so many different sources delayed the process. “We felt it was important for the initial report to thoroughly research all available resources, and make certain the information we chose to highlight was not only accurate, but would be available year-to-year to ensure consistent measurement,” said Beckwith. “We’ll plan on publishing in May next year, and expect that the report will contain additional information from other areas of the industry.”

Again, the GOLF 20/20 Industry Report is available in its entirety only at

GOLF 20/20 is an initiative of the World Golf Foundation, which also oversees the World Golf Hall of Fame, The First Tee, and the National Minority Golf Foundation. GOLF 20/20’s annual conference is scheduled for November 14-16 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, FL. Members of the media interested in covering the conference should e-mail Melissa Ramsey at