A recent report by the NFG shows that there are now more than 34,000 golf courses and facilities in the world. The idea behind the National Golf Foundations research was to look at the global appeal of the game.
The results of the report showed that there were 34,011 golf courses and facilities spread over 206 countries by the end of 2014, the report was aimed at finding out the Global Appeal of Golf.
It found that the majority of golf courses are in the United States (45%), more than double the number that are in the whole of Europe, and 79% of courses are spread over 10 countries including the UK, Scotland and Ireland. There are also 696 golf new courses under construction or in advance planning globally.
It's great that there are so many new courses and places for people to play, but are more people playing?
In the UK numbers of new golfers are reportedly dropping. The game is growing steadily in Asia whilst the US figures show the same numbers as previous years.
There are still a lot of negative images surrounding golf, such as the stuffiness of some clubs, but professionals and committees are doing a lot to change the image golf currently holds. I think the guys on tour are also doing a lot to modernize the image of the game and it is becoming easier to participate.
The time has come to stop opening new course in places that have a lot already and start filling the ones we have. The focus and effort should be on opening courses in countries and areas where the game is not yet developed.
In recent years Golf Clubs in the UK have been hit quite badly with some closing down and others having to ask members to subsidize costs. This is because of too much local competition and players always moving around to get the best deal, this can then lead to course conditions not being as good because of little or no money to invest.
I'm not sure if there is any way of stopping or limiting the number of courses in countries that are almost saturated by them already, but it may be an idea.
I agree with building courses in areas and places where there are little or no facilities, but I have always found it odd that in some places there can be golf courses who share the same land !
I think the NGF and golf associations around the world should focus efforts on bringing golf to those who have never had the opportunity to play.
By developing projects where young and newly qualified PGA pros can be paid to travel to countries where golf is developing, it will help them reach levels we have in the UK, Europe, Dubai and the US.
This would then mean that the expertise learnt can be shared, and a future generation of players will emerge from a host of countries, not dominated by a few. Professionals would then not have to fight each other for lessons, clubs would not be forced to reduce membership fees to the point they cannot maintain the quality of the course, and the game would be grown globally. Yes the game should be accessible to everyone but this can still happen without building new courses, simply invest in the ones we have.
Every person who wants to should be able to play, if we have a problem with too many pros and not enough players then find places who need pros and develop a program that grows Golf globally.
Golf has the potential to be the biggest sport in the world but at the moment is not always easily accessible to people in some places and countries.
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