How’s the practice facility at your club looking these days? If numbers recently released by the National Golf Foundation (NGF) are any indication, the answer is probably “crowded.” According to the NGF, golf instruction is now a billion-dollar business. That’s a whole lot of lessons!
Digging deeper into the numbers, more than 4 million golfers looked to shave strokes off their games by taking lessons in the last year—almost 17 percent of the overall participation base. That comes out to approximately 21 million total lessons given as golfers, on average, took about five lessons at a cost of approximately $50 apiece. And more than 75 percent of the golfers who took lessons did so through a certified PGA professional, the NGF reported—strong evidence that the vast majority of the instruction market feels that If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
Stereotypes have men driving aimlessly for hours instead of stopping to ask for directions, so it is no wonder females are more likely to take lessons than their male counterparts. While the majority of lessons were taken by males (we make up 77 percent of the golfing population, after all), a much larger percentage of females took instruction. Women are more likely to participate in group lessons as well, which account for 25 percent of the golf instruction market, according to the NGF report.
The battle of the sexes aside, when it comes to breaking down skill levels, the numbers get a little confusing. Golfers who are more skilled are more likely to seek professional instruction, the NGF reported, while higher handicappers and adult beginners are generally less inclined to take lessons.
But because approximately two-thirds of golfers shoot average scores above 90, less-skilled golfers represent the largest share of instruction revenue. So while bragging about your star student may impress your friends, teaching Joe Six Pack how to play the game will pad your bank account.
OK, so women are more likely to take lessons than men, and better players gravitate toward instruction more often than hackers. But how does age factor in? I was not surprised to read that 32% of juniors (ages 6 to 17) take lessons, with kids averaging 50% more lessons than adults at any age.
Nobody asked, but I’ll also share where I fit into the NGF report. I’ve never taken a lesson—group or individual—but I’m with approximately 64% of core golfers who indicate they watch some golf instruction online. Currently I’m relying on Rick Shiels, PGA, to try to cure my recurring slice, via his YouTube channel.
I’ve also interviewed Garrett Powell, Assistant Golf Professional at Shoal Creek in Alabama, on our Club + Resort Talks podcast. He’s now working with V1 Sports and offers golfers an opportunity to record their swings and submit them via that company’s website to receive specific instruction, so potential customers don’t have to travel to Dixie to have a one-on-one lesson with Garrett. Today’s technology can make it easy for any of your club’s pros to extend their reach into the instruction market in the same way.
Like anything related to technology, the younger generation is generally more engaged with online instruction. The NGF reports that 71 percent of core golfers from the 18 to 34-year-old age group say they watch instructional videos, compared to 65 percent in both the 35-to-49 and 50-to-64 age groups. Not surprisingly, the over-65 crowd (52 percent) is least likely to participate in online instruction.
Young or old, male or female, people are trying to improve their golf games, and that’s all good news for the future of the industry. The better everyone plays, the more likely they are to continue playing.
What is your club doing to improve the games of your members and guests? If you’ve got some innovative ideas, drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear about them and share the ideas with our audience.