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A Publication of the National Golf Foundation

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

Amid Beginner Influx, Where Are the Introductory Golf Programs for Adults?

by Ted Eleftheriou

November 2021

Consider this. There were 3 million beginning golfers in the U.S. in 2020 – a record high – and the number of newcomers will top that total this year.

Also consider that for every two active golfers, there’s one adult non-golfer who says they’re “very interested” in getting out on a golf course for the first time. That’s more than 12 ½ million adults – about equal to the entire population of Illinois!

However, when one thinks of beginner golf programs, the tendency is to think of the many junior initiatives offered throughout the industry. And no one would argue the importance and benefits of getting someone involved at a young age as it relates to establishing a long-term connection. But the reality is that almost 75% of beginning golfers are… adults.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Graphic indicating the noteworthy proportion of beginners and “very interested” non-golfers who are adults versus juniors

This begs the question: “Where are all the adult introductory golf programs?”

There’s Get Golf Ready, which grew out of Golf 2020 and developed a brand and curriculum still used by some golf courses today. And there’s Make Golf Your Thing, although that’s more of an awareness campaign designed to promote the game. Chances are you won’t find a whole lot more. We’ve checked. And our consumer research backs that up – only 13% of adult newbies from the past 10 years indicate they’ve taken part in an adult-specific introductory program.

Enter Welcome2Golf – NGF’s effort to bring adult non-golfers to the game and convert them into committed golfers by improving the overall experience.

With 13 Welcome2Golf Centers, and more to come, our success stems from educating and developing golf coaches who are not only experts in the program’s three key elements – Invite, Introduce, Convert – but visionaries in growing their customer base and profitability by delivering a more welcoming golf experience. Welcome2Golf’s focus is also local: training professionals on how to invite people from their own communities and introduce them to the game.

NGF’s recent research into golfer conversion suggests that golf courses offering specialized adult beginner programs enjoy a 38% conversion rate when it comes to creating new, committed golfers, compared to a 25% success rate for those that don’t. For perspective, in a year like 2020, that would mean almost 300,000 more beginners becoming committed golfers.

Golf is in a healthy place, but a greater and more-immediate opportunity exists. With Welcome2Golf, we know we’re on the right track and we’re excited to demonstrate that growth is possible. If you’re interested in learning more about the program, becoming a Welcome2Golf Center, or supporting our efforts, contact me. I’m always looking to connect and work with people who share NGF’s passion for creating new golfers.

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