Technology Profile of Golfers & Course Closures

In a study based on a survey of 1,662 core golfers (those playing eight or more rounds a year), the National Golf Foundation (NGF) has released a technology profile that includes where golfers go on the Internet (in general and golf-specific), what electronic devices they own (such as smart phones, personal digital assistants, etc.) and how they use those devices.

A key element of the research report is the extent to which golfers are using social media, also known as Web 2.0 applications (user-generated content, social networks, blogs, etc.).

Among other findings, the study shows that 61% of core golfers visit a social networking service (such as Facebook) at least occasionally. In fact, the top destination is Facebook, with 38% penetration, followed by LinkedIn with 25%.

Other findings:

* The top three general activities that golfers engage in online are: 1) reading customer ratings or reviews; 2) voting in online polls; and 3) sharing links to Web sites, photos, videos, etc. with friends or colleagues.

* The top two golf-related online activities are: (1) reading articles on instruction or players; and (2) researching or getting recommendations on golf equipment.

* 83% of golfers go online just for fun or to pass the time.

* Younger golfers are more active online, especially with the more recent technology.

* The most-visited golf-related social networking service is Last Minute Golfer (14% penetration).

* 39% of golfers have watched golf TV programs or videos on devices other than their home TV.

The study was fielded online in March 2009 using NGF's golfer research panel. The full report is available only to NGF members and media. Although golf course closures are not a new phenomenon, over the past few years the number of closures has increased to a level not seen for decades, according to the NGF. There have been 71 closures (in 18-hole equivalents) year-to-date through June 2009, following 106 closures for the full year 2008.

The leading reason for 2009 closures has been the economy, followed by conversion to real estate. Closures continue to be disproportionately public, stand-alone nine-hole, short courses (executive-length and par-3s) and value price point.

Closures far outpace openings in 2009. Thus far only 16.5 courses (in 18-hole equivalents) have opened. As a result, the total net supply of golf facilities is continuing to decrease, from a high of 16,057 in 2004 to 15,931 as June 2009 (126 fewer).

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