The positives of an improving golfer are plentiful — most notably, they express increased comfort and confidence, while playing more frequently and spending more money on the game.
The quest to get better led more than four million golfers to take lessons last year in the U.S., a figure that represents almost 17 percent of the overall participation base.
While the majority of golfers eschew formal instruction, perhaps preferring to take a do-it-yourself approach to swing changes or fixes by gleaning free tips from magazines, television or the internet, professional golf instruction is estimated to be about a $1 billion industry.
There were approximately 21 million total lessons given in the past year as golfers, on average, take about five lessons at a cost of approximately $50 apiece. More than 75 percent of golfers who took instruction did so through a certified PGA professional (PGA of America member), the recognized teachers and leaders of the industry’s effort to develop and retain golfers, promote the game and make it more fun.
Who Is Taking Lessons?
Golfers who are more skilled and more avid are more likely to seek professional instruction, while higher handicappers and adult beginners are generally less inclined to take lessons.
That said, because approximately two-thirds of golfers shoot average scores above 90, less-skilled golfers represent the largest share of instruction revenue, whether from PGA and LPGA professionals at a private club, public facility or driving range, or certified teachers at golf schools and dedicated instruction centers like GOLFTEC.
Males represent about three-quarters (77 percent) of the golf population and, therefore, account for the majority of those who take instruction. Women, however, are more likely to take lessons. While 14 percent of male golfers took some form of professional instruction in the past year, that percentage jumps to one-quarter of all female golfers. Additionally, women are much more inclined to participate in group lessons, which account for 25 percent of the golf instruction market.
Adult males across all age groups gravitate toward individual lessons, and students taking group lessons skew — in addition to women — toward young adults (ages 18-34) and those with a lower skill level (average score of 90+).
An increasing number of websites and instructors are offering dedicated instruction online, some without any face-to-face interaction with students, although the NGF’s most recent research doesn’t measure the scope of this category specifically.
Overall, approximately 64% of core golfers indicate they watch some golf instruction online, from tips on YouTube and Instagram to golf-specific websites and popular fee-based platforms such as Golf Channel’s Revolution Golf. The most engaged segment when it comes to online instruction are 18 to 34-year-olds, with 71 percent of core golfers from this age group saying they watch videos. That figure is 65 percent in both the 35-49 and 50-64 age groups, and falls to 52 percent for the over-65 crowd.
Among adult golfers who say they’ve taken formal instruction in the past year, the percentages vary slightly depending on age, but still range between 14 percent and 17 percent among every group 18 or older. Perhaps not surprisingly, that percentage jumps to 32 percent of juniors (ages 6-17), with kids averaging 50 percent more lessons than their adult counterparts at an age when many are learning or first picking up the game.
The NGF is widely regarded as the foremost authority in the golf business for data, research and consulting. The foundation serves members across every sector in the golf industry, with an expertise that includes market intelligence in golf participation, consumer behavior, course operations, facility development, travel, retail, consumer confidence and more.