Every year since 1986, the National Golf Foundation has surveyed the American public to figure out how many golfers there are. This year, for the first time, it also began trying to measure the number of people who play computer or video golf games, and the results are quite eye-opening.
In 2011, the NGF estimates, 25.7 million people (aged 6 and over) played at least one round of golf, while 56 million people played video or computer golf – that’s more than twice as many as the number of actual golfers.
But here’s the interesting part – of those 56 million golf gamers, only about 10 million also played golf on a real course. Seven million of the gamers were “lapsed golfers,” while 39 million have never played actual golf.
So the question is, the NGF says, are these non-golfing gamers more interested in playing golf than other non-golfers? The answer, they say, is yes.
According to the survey, 22 percent of non-golfing gamers are interested in playing golf now, compared with only 7 percent of their non-gaming counterparts. The NGF estimates that about 10 million people from the non-golfing gamer crowd have an un-activated demand for playing the real thing.
Who are these people? More than half are under the age of 30, and 29 percent of them are juniors (age 6-17). And 44 percent of the gamers are female – that’s a huge increase over the current population of golfers, which is only 19 percent female.
Golf gaming represents a promising gateway to growing participation among younger and female Americans, the NGF summarizes. The NGF and the PGA of America’s Golf 2.0 team will be looking at ways to convert these folks from consoles to courses, and it’ll be very interesting to see how that goes.
For more on the National Golf Foundation, visit www.ngf.org/