More than 1-in-4 Americans age 6 or older – 82 million people in total — consume some form of golf media.
This reach extends far beyond the 24 million who play the game, revealing an abundant and diverse group that’s attractive to media companies, marketers and advertisers.
The NGF’s latest report, Golf Media – Consumer Engagement – examines the widespread nature of golf media and explores the demographics of those who engage with the game on television, in print and online.
Golf media users, as identified in the study, say they do one or more of the following “regularly” or “occasionally”:
- Watch golf tournaments on TV
- Watch other golf programming on TV
- Stream golf tournament coverage
- Visit golf-related websites
- Like or follow golf through social media
- Read golf-specific print publications
- Read about golf in non-golf print publications
- Listen to golf radio broadcasts or podcasts
Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of those who play also consume some form of golf media, with almost 18 million golfers saying they watch and/or read about the game.
Overall, however, just 8% of the U.S. population plays golf. This means that most people who consume golf media don’t actually play themselves, at least not regularly. In fact, more than 31 million Americans might watch a tournament on TV or read about Tiger Woods despite having never played the game in their lives. Another 33 million golf media users have some prior golf experience but haven’t played the game within the past year to meet the NGF’s definition of a current golfer.
Driven by the popularity of golf’s global professional tours and their star players, television dominates the golf media landscape across all levels of engagement, from non-golfers and casual participants to the most passionate followers of the game. Live streaming engagement continues to rise, thanks to the increasing presence of digital content and expanded windows of online tournament coverage. While 67 million Americans said they viewed golf on TV in 2017, almost 22 million said they watched streaming coverage of a golf tournament.
Research shows that those who watch streaming tournament coverage at least occasionally are among the most engaged golf media consumers, with almost 75% of them also watching golf on TV and approximately 40% of them also reading about the game, whether it’s online, in newspapers, books or in magazines that focus on everything from instruction and equipment to players and destinations.
This report classifies golf media consumers into three segments – light, moderate and heavy users – and examines how their engagement level translates to their interest in playing the game and spending on equipment and apparel. Based on their media behavior, the most desirable consumers should be readily identifiable and targetable for media companies and marketers.
Erik is the Editorial Director for the NGF. Before joining the National Golf Foundation, he spent more than two decades with Bloomberg News, both as a writer and editor, with a focus on sports business and the golf industry. The New Jersey resident has also written about golf for outlets that include Forbes, LINKS and the Met Golfer.
- 75% of golfers watch and/or read about golf.
- A total of 82 million Americans indicated that, at least occasionally, they consumed some sort of golf media in 2017.
- Beyond those who play, there are 31 million Americans who have never played the game but might watch a tournament on TV or read about Tiger Woods.
- 67 million Americans (ages 6+) said they viewed golf on TV, while almost 22 million said they watched online streaming coverage of a golf tournament.