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Women & Girls Fueling Golf's Growth

NGF | Published on 6/7/2024

Back in 2013 at the NGF Symposium in St. Louis, we declared to the business leaders in our audience that we weren’t going to do any major new publications on female golfers until the industry made meaningful improvements at making women feel more comfortable and welcome in the traditional golf environment.

Well… the following proves we just can’t resist. The growth in demand for golf by women must be celebrated.

Some of the most noteworthy golfer gains in recent years have been among female participants.

Approximately seven million women and girls played golf on a course in 2023, the highest participation levels since 2006, which was an all-time measured high.

June is Women’s Golf Month, not to mention the peak of the golf season, and it’s notable that females now account for more than one-quarter (26%) of the on-course golfer population in the U.S. It is the highest proportion on record, and a jump from 20% in 2011.

That particular year, on the heels of the Great Recession, capped a span (2007-2011) during which there was a net decline of more than 4 million golfers as finances became tighter for many Americans, discretionary spending dipped and so did pay-for-play recreation. During that five-year window, the male golfer population declined by approximately 2.1 million and the number of female golfers dropped by about 2 million.

But as a proportion of the overall on-course participant base, the net golfer declines from 2007-2011 were -9% among males versus -28% among females.

The rebound since then had been gradual before accelerating during the post-pandemic era. Since 2019, the net gain among on-course female golfers is 1.4 million. Over that same time, the number of male participants has risen by 900,000.


If 2024 yields an increase among women and girls like the past several years, we could be looking at a record number of traditional female golfers.

The female golfer population today is not only growing, it’s more diverse than ever. Females make up a larger proportion of beginners and juniors than their representation among on-course participants overall. Members can read more HERE.

Among the 45 million Americans who play any kind of golf – on- or off-course – 33% are female.

And the proportion of female participants is even higher (42%) among the 18.5 million people who only play off-course forms of the game, such as at golf entertainment venues like Topgolf or the expanding number of indoor simulator facilities like Five Iron Golf, X-Golf and Golfzon Social.

That bodes well for future growth potential within the green-grass game, as does the fact that females account for more than one-third (35%) of “Latent Demand.” This means another 7 million+ females categorized as non-golfers have said they’re “very interested” in giving traditional golf a try. This heightened level of interest is, at least in part, a byproduct of more welcoming and less intimidating off-course forms of the game.

National Golf Foundation
National Golf Foundation

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