Golf is surging in popularity and it's more than a pandemic story. More than 24.8 million people played golf in the US in 2020, up more than 2% year-over-year and the largest net increase in 17 years. The sport also saw the largest percentage increase in beginner golfers and youth golfers since 1997.
The average number of rounds played by golfers grew to 20.2 in 2020, an all-time high since NGF started tracking that statistic in 1998 — younger golfers, and especially female players (8% increase), saw significant upticks.
Golf equipment and apparel has seen massive growth, with golf brands like Callaway and Titleist notching record sales. Acushnet’s (owner of Titleist and FootJoy) second-quarter net sales in the US grew 117%.
In May, South Korean private equity firm Centroid Investment Partners acquired TaylorMade Golf for $1.7 billion, the largest acquisition in the golf goods industry to date. TaylorMade, only 4 years ago was sold to KPS Capital Partners by Adidas in 2017 for $425 million.
Golf is also moving beyond the typical 18-hole course, and more consumers are playing the sport at entertainment venues like TopGolf or on virtual simulators. In addition to the 24.8 million people who played a round of golf on a course in 2020, another 12.1 million participated in an “off-course golf activity," such as TopGolf.
Short Squeez Takeaway: Golf is exploding in popularity across all mediums, which is great news for the professional sport as well. In April, the final round of The Masters averaged 9.45 million viewers on CBS, up 69% from 2020. It also looks like things are only going to get better for golf as people are expected to embrace healthier living post-pandemic.