Middle East leads surge in global growth of golf


The R&A has published the results of its recent research into the state of the game, through the number of Registered and unregistered golfers around the world and in the Middle East region.

The sport’s governing body has stated that globally 10 million more adult golfers are playing the game than in 2016. There are now 39.6 million on-course golfers (nine and 18-hole) in R&A-affiliated markets.

In the Middle East, the number of golfers has increased from 13,000 in 2012 to 42,000 in 2022.

Since 2012, nine and 18-hole golf participation numbers have risen by 62 per cent compared to 2020, including 16,000 registered — the Middle East leads the world on this metric.

The UAE has 21,000 golfers of which 7,008 are Registered Golfers with a published number of 31 golf courses, including Par-3 courses.

Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said: “Golf’s popularity has surged in recent years, which is reflected in a notable increase in the number of people playing the sport in both traditional on-course and alternative formats.

“It is significant that 10 million more golfers are playing on the course since 2016, but it is also important that millions of others are engaged in golf through many other alternative formats, such as driving ranges, which are so vital to the growth of the sport.

‘It also underlines why effective and impactful participation programmes are important for encouraging more people into the sport and retaining them in greater numbers,” Anderton.

“We are working closely with our affiliated national federations and stakeholders within golf to sustain this momentum. We thank them for their efforts as we aim to ensure that golf is thriving for years to come.’


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To get consistent benchmarking for comparative analysis definitions are important to establish:


1. REGISTERED GOLFERS: These are the number of golfers who are affiliated to a federation (they may be members of golf clubs or affiliated to the federation in another way: eg, through a direct subscription).

2. UNREGISTERED NINE AND 18-HOLE GOLFERS: Golfers who have played on a full-length nine or 18-hole golf course at least once in the last year, but are not registered with their national association