Play Golf America was launched five years ago as an industry wide attempt to increase participation in the sport. Developed by The PGA of America along with the LPGA, National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA), PGA Tour, USGA and other Golf 20/20 Conference participants, the program has had more than 3.4 million prople participate in such things as Play Golf America Days, special events and National Promotions such as PGA Free Fitting and Trade-Up Month, PGA Free Lesson Month, American Express® Women’s Golf Month and Family Golf Month.
According to the effort’s five year report, Play Golf America has been a success. They report:
– 3.4 million students participating in group instruction over the past five years
– 5.5 million golfers per year playing in leagues and outings
– 1.28 million people experiencing golf through National Promotions, Play Golf America Days and special events
Those aren’t bad numbers, but here’s the one that really jumped out at me:
During the last five years, new golfers participating in Play Golf America programs reported having a retention rate that was consistently greater than 75%. That is noticeably higher than the 50% rate the National Golf Foundation reported for players who entered the game on their own accord.
Retention has long been a big problem in the sport. People take golf up with enthusiasm, but more than half of new golfers typically give it up within a few years. For many, the sport turns out to be too hard, too expensive and too time consuming. In terms of skills, most golfers peak within three years of starting (and remember that the average score for 18 holes is 100).
If Play Golf America really can boast 75% retention rates, then it truly is a worthwhile program.