Latest Golf Survey Reveals Insights on the Evolution of the Player and the Impact on the Game
NORTHBROOK, Illinois – KemperSports, a leading golf, sports, entertainment and hospitality company, unveiled today new data from its latest golf survey that speaks to the makeup of current players and their evolving preferences that are driving the golf industry forward. “Teeing Up the Future of Golf: The 2023 KemperSports Golfer Insight Survey” queried roughly 16,000 golfers of varying levels and ages to learn more about what motivates them to hit the links, and how courses can adapt to meet their needs.
As a follow up to the 2021 KemperSports Golfer Insights Survey that focused largely on the “pandemic player,” this round of insights supports those initial findings, reiterating that players are looking for a social, more inclusive approach to the game. This survey also confirmed that golfers of all ages and levels, especially those that started or returned to the game during the pandemic, are continuing to play just as much now, if not more.
“When we first conducted this survey in 2021, our focus was to gain a better understanding of both the lifelong golfer as well as those who picked up the game as a result of the pandemic. With these new insights, we are able to take a deeper look at why these new golfers stuck with the game as well as the changing expectations of players across the board,” said Keith Karem, senior vice president of marketing at KemperSports. “As leaders in the golf industry, this data will help us understand how our properties can continue evolving our on-course experience to keep these players of all ages and levels coming back for more as we explore new and innovative ways to grow the game.”
The key findings from the 2023 survey are as follows:
- People are playing more golf. 89% of respondents said they played the same amount or more golf in 2022 compared to the height of the pandemic, with 78% playing 16 or more rounds in the year. But what is motivating them? For Gen Z (age 16-25), golf presents an ideal setting to destress and disconnect, with 70% saying they play golf to relieve stress and 54% looking to unplug. In older generations, exercising and enjoying the outdoors are the key motivators.
- Regardless of age or level, players are craving more tech-forward options in all aspects of the game. While the desire to disconnect may be true for some out on the course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t searching for tech that supports or improves their game. 75% of surveyed players said they are interested in a golf cart GPS, while 50% are interested in driving range ball tracking and simulator tech. It’s not just on-course tech-forward enhancements they want – 54% of players are anxious for new ways to search for and book tee times online.
- Non-traditional golf formats (including shorter rounds and shorter courses) are rising in popularity, especially among newer players who started playing in the last three years. When asked to envision their ideal year of golf, 85% of new players still want to play the traditional 18-holes for at least half their rounds or more. That said, they do prefer shorter formats for the remaining half, including: 9 holes (70%), short courses (47%), Par 3 courses (44%).
- Not only is Gen Z here to stay, but they are learning, improving and playing more than ever. 55% of these younger players say they are hitting the links more after experiencing lower scores and overall improvement in their game. How do we keep them engaged on the greens? The “fun factor” is important to Gen Z, with 81% saying that the social aspect of the sport attracts them to play more. However, social golf opportunities targeted at this generation might be lacking, as 83% currently don’t play in a league, yet 70% say they are interested in social events and leagues.
“The fact that 89% of golfers said they played the same amount or more in 2022 compared to the height of the pandemic is truly telling of the state of the golf industry,” said Steve Skinner, CEO of KemperSports. “There’s no denying the game has grown, but it has also changed. At KemperSports, we are committed to pioneering that continued positive change and using important insights like these to push the envelope at our properties while taking this next generation of interested golfers and converting them into lifelong players.”
In the last year, KemperSports has entered into several strategic partnerships to help advance its approach to new and existing golf technology. Those partnerships include sports technology company Full Swing, and driving range technology company TopTracer.
KemperSports properties across the country are exploring new formats of golf geared towards players of all ages and levels. A prime example of this is Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest, Ill. which recently opened The Lawn, a free, world-class bentgrass putting and chipping experience covering 30,000 square feet with a challenging variety of hills, dales, and swales entertaining for new and avid players alike.
For more information on KemperSports, its properties and its programming, visit kempersports.com.
This survey was conducted online by KemperSports in Dec. 2022, returning responses from 15,925 current, lapsed and new golfers based in the U.S.
KemperSports is a leading sports, entertainment and hospitality company that delivers operational excellence in property and experience management. Headquartered in Chicago with regional offices throughout the U.S., KemperSports manages more than 140 golf courses, private clubs, sports venues, and destination resorts nationwide. It has more golf properties named among the top 100 U.S. public and resort courses as rated by GOLF Magazine, Golf Digest and Golfweek than any other management company. For more information about KemperSports, visit www.kempersports.com.
Kelly Pawlak, KemperLesnik