A recent report by HowDidiDo suggests that reports of golf's decline may be exaggerated after findings suggests a growth in the number of rounds played last year.
Find yourself conversing on the future of golf with industry experts and the discussion is likely to take a similar course.
To costly, time-consuming and out-dated, the game, according to this narrative, is in danger of becoming nothing more than an antiquated past time unless the golfing world radically changes its way.
A recent survey, however, suggests that these reports could be exaggerated. While there may be a downturn in the number of members at UK&I golf clubs, the findings of a survey by HowDidiDo, which holds the handicaps, results and scores of more than 1,300,000 UK golf club members, suggests that the number of competitive rounds at golf clubs is actually on the increase.
Analysis of the 2015 data shows that ladies' medal rounds at the 2,000-odd clubs using the system were up by two per cent on 2014, while Stableford rounds rose by nearly 11 per cent to 469,530.
The report is interesting in two ways.
Firstly it suggests that the downfall in golf participation is not as bad as many have feared. That golfers have turned their back on annual memberships in favour of pay-and-play rounds is widely accepted. England Golf reported a 20% fall in club memberships over the last decade. That rounds of golf appear on the increase suggests that Britain’s golfers are participating in the sport in less-traditional ways, whether this be a more normadic style of playing or at golf centres such as Topgolf.
What is perhaps more interesting is that the survey shows a significant move away from the traditional medal round in preference of the stableford format.
Barry Dyett, managing director of HowDidiDo said:
"While there is still an increase in the number of medal rounds being played, the drift towards Stableford is more noticeable as the gap between the two closes. What's more, compared with 2013, there were around 11,000 fewer medal rounds played, but almost 200,000 more Stableford rounds - that's a considerable swing."
For those of us who fear racking up a double-digit score in the dreaded monthly medal, this will come as a relief. The dislike of medals, especially amongst women, coupled with the move to make golf faster, means the rise of the stableford competition comes as little surprise.
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