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A Publication of the National Golf Foundation

Questions, Answers and Insights for Everyone Interested in the Business of Golf

Game of a Lifetime?
Check Out These Numbers

by Joe Beditz

June 2021

You often hear golf referred to as the game of a lifetime. But is it?

Unlike virtually every other sport, golf participation actually holds steady across the ages. See the below graphic, which shows that while skiing and tennis start off with slightly-higher participation rates, by the time people reach their 50s it’s no contest. Golf wins hands down.


As the Baby Boomers continue to reach retirement age, the size of golf’s 65+ cohort expands in tandem. By a lot — up 50% to 4.8 million over just the past four years. And with 10,000 Boomers turning 65 every single day, that number will continue to grow for the next ten years or so.

Retirement age golfers contribute significantly to the golf economy:

  • Playing almost 2x more rounds annually vs. all other adult golfers (32 vs. 17, on average)
  • Spending more on golf, on average, than all other age cohorts

The most important takeaway: when we create a committed golfer during adolescence or early adulthood, we usually create a golfer for life. And the participation numbers lead us to believe that the lifelong value of a customer is greater in golf than any other sport or activity. By a mile.

So, let’s continue playing the long game and converting early interest into commitment. The economic impact will be cumulative, not to mention the lasting joy the game delivers.

A friend of mine was telling me about a golfing buddy in his mid-80s who is constantly bemoaning the condition of his game. His favorite line: “Ever since I turned 80 my game has gone downhill.” Imagine that.

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Joe Beditz

Joe is in his 35th year with the NGF and has served as President and Chief Executive since 1989. One of the industry's leading experts on the business of golf, Joe has published a myriad of studies and reports about the state of the game and, as a speaker, is frequently asked to provide insight and information on consumer and economic trends affecting golf's present and future.