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A comprehensive look at the vitality of golf

Stakeholders in the nearly $70 billion golf industry continue to focus on ways to continue growing the game.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

As a nearly $70 billion industry that employs approximately two million Americans, golf makes significant contributions to our culture and economy. Today, the game is enjoyed by 25 million Americans who play 465 million rounds annually at the nation’s 15,500 facilities. The median green fee for 18 holes is $26 and roughly nine of 10 golfers play on public courses.

Currently golf has more participants than baseball, basketball, football, soccer and tennis, and the industry is continuing to focus sizable resources to increase and retain participation. Examples of programs designed to grow the sport include:

  • The First Tee reached more than 3.6 million young people in 2013, the greatest single-year total since its inception in 1997. Forty nine percent of The First Tee participants are non-Caucasian and 37 percent are female, compared to 20 percent of all U.S. golfers. The First Tee projects it will reach an additional 10 million young people between 2011 and 2017 (double the amount from 1997 through 2010).
  • Get Golf Ready, the golf industry’s adult player-development initiative, welcomed 86,000 participants in 2013, a 13 percent increase over the previous year. It is offered at 4,053 certified facilities nationwide and introduces Americans, new or returning, to the game through a series of five lessons for $99. 60 percent of Get Golf Ready participants in 2013 were female.
  • PGA Junior League Golf, the game’s version of Little League Baseball, attracted 8,800 participants in 2013 and has nearly doubled to 15,000 participants in 2014. The goal is to have 100,000 girls and boys ages 8 to 12 participate in golf’s youth team sport by 2020.
(AP Photo/The Register-Guard, Brian Davies)
(AP Photo/The Register-Guard, Brian Davies)

Player participation and fan interest in professional golf has remained strong, allowing the game to give back through local, regional and national charities.

  • The United States Golf Association (USGA) accepted a record number of entries for this year’s U.S. Open Championships, exceeding 10,000 in the men’s tournament for the first time in its history.
  • Golf generates $3.9 billion each year for charitable causes, most of which are unrelated to golf. 12 million Americans participated in 143,000 charitable events in 2013. The game generates more for charity than the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB combined.
(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Media coverage is soaring from endemic and non-endemic outlets:

  • For the third consecutive year, Golf Channel posted its most-watched year ever in 2013 with a 14 percent year-over-year increase. Golf Channel is the fastest-growing cable network since becoming part of the NBC Sports Group in 2011.
  • In 2013, the USGA entered into a 12-year agreement with Fox Sports to televise the U.S. Open Championships through 2026. The PGA of America recently extended its agreement with NBC Sports to broadcast the Ryder Cup for 15 more years through 2030. The PGA TOUR previously entered into long-term agreements with CBS, NBC and Golf Channel to televise its events through 2021.


Steve Mona became the World Golf Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer in March 2008. In 2013, Steve was named to Golf Inc.’s “Most Powerful People in Golf” for the 13th consecutive year. Bio

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