Published on August 25, 2015 by Eric LePage  

Every spring millions of people tune in to watch the first major golf tournament of the year - The Masters. Although millions of people tune into to watch the Masters, the hype may be deceiving.

Though it may still seem like there is a high interest in golf around the United States, it is clear that golf is on the decline. Since 2006, the number of American golfers who play eight rounds or more of golf has fallen between three and 4.5 percent every year since 2006. Along with this, the number of golf courses closing in America has outnumbered the number of new courses being built significantly since 2007.

American Golfers and Frequency of Play
Golfers (Age)19992014
7-11 (8.5% of U.S. Pop.) 3.9 4.7
12-17 (9.9% of U.S. Pop.) 9.6 4.9
18-24 (11.0% of U.S. Pop.) 11.5 8.7
25-34 (15.4% of U.S. Pop.) 19.6 13.9
35-44 (18.2% of U.S. Pop.) 20 15.8
45-54 (14.6% of U.S. Pop.) 16 15.9
55-64 (9.3% of U.S. Pop.) 9.3 16.6
65-74 (7.1% of U.S. Pop.) 6.5 13.6
75+ (6.0% of U.S. Pop.) 3.6 6
Total 100 100
Base (participants in mil.) 27 18.4

After looking at the data provided by SBRnet, it is clear that since 1999, the percentage of young golfers has steadily been decreasing, while the percentage of older golfers has steadily been increasing. Additionally, the total number of participants (golfers) has decreased from 27 million in 1999 to just 18.4 million in 2014. This decrease in the number of amateur golfers in American has also made its way to the professional level. In 1986, American golfers made up 60 percent of the Top 100 players in the World Golf Ranking. By the end of 2010, Americans made up only 32 percent of the Top 100.

The cause of this substantial decrease in participation in the sport of golf is mainly from one cause: time. Seventy percent of golfers in America are between the ages of 18 and 65. With such a large percent of the golfing population being the working stage of life, the time once used for golf, is now spent working and spending time with family. According to The Center for American Progress, more than 85.5 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week. Americans work 270 more hours than British workers, 300 more hours than Australian workers, and almost 500 more hours than French workers each year, all countries that have a high golf population.

As for the future of golf, there is no promise that the number of golfers will increase in the near future. However, there is hope. With young golfers such as Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy revolutionizing the game and setting records, hype has sprung in fans throughout the world. This increased hype at the professional level will hopefully bring amateur golfers back out on the links, getting the golf industry to rise again.

This blog post was written by Samford University student Eric LePage.

Fitzpatrick, M. (2011, March 29). Golf's Decline in America: Work/Life Balance is True Culprit. Retrieved July 28, 2015.

Image provided by

Market Research/Demographics. (2014). Retrieved July 28, 2015.

Weisenthal, Joe. "Check Out How Much Americans Work." Business Insider. 7 Aug. 2013. Web. 27 July 2015.