Aussies Prefer Golf to Tennis

Golf is fast becoming Australia's most popular pastime as shown by a significant increase in the latest participation figures. The data, released as part of the Australian Sports Commission's annual Exercise, Recreation and Sport Survey (ERASS), ranked golf as the most popular club-based activity in 2008, overtaking tennis.

Total golf participation increased in 2008 by more than 260,000 - a 29% increase from 2007. "With every year that passes, more and more Australians are realizing both the health and social benefits derived from visiting their local golf course," said Max Garske, CEO of the PGA of Australia.

"We are extremely pleased to see that over 1.1 million Australian's enjoyed a round of golf during 2008."

With a total participation rate of 1,181,100 throughout 2008, golf topped tennis, football and netball on the list of the most popular club-based physical activities for Australians. Golf also ranked second on the ERASS Top Ten Organized Physical Activities list behind only aerobics/fitness.

This is the first time golf has eclipsed the total participation of tennis since the 2002 ERASS survey period.

"Golf is an accessible sport that can be played by all Australians regardless of age, sex, socioeconomic background or skill level and the latest ERASS results demonstrate this," added Garske.

While the 2008 figures are indeed satisfying for the PGA and the entire Australian golf industry, Garske said he wouldn't be surprised if participation numbers were to jump even higher at the conclusion of the 2009 survey period.

"Many of our PGA members servicing local golf clubs and growing the game have indicated that rounds of golf have been on the increase in the last few months," he said. "Typically the biggest concern for golfers is not finding enough time to play a few holes on a regular basis. But the current economic situation has created more leisure time for many Australians. Traditionally, as the unemployment rate rises, so to does demand for tee times."

Garske said the PGA, in cooperation with the entire Australian golf industry, is working on several initiatives to further increase golf participation, including the launch of a new national junior program, Pumpgolf, made possible by the PGA's partnership with Coca-Cola Amatil.

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