European Tour Ladies European Tour

Golf Boom: Rising ticket sales for professional tournaments

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, golf has experienced a surge in popularity, attracting an increasing number of enthusiasts. This trend seems to extend its positive influence to professional golf as well. According to a report from the DP World Tour, R&A, and Ladies European Tour, major golf tournaments in the UK and Ireland in 2023 have witnessed a significant boost in popularity, marked by increased ticket sales and higher attendance numbers.

DP World Tour with 43 percent higher income from ticket sales

The report focuses on the most prominent golf tournaments in the UK and Ireland, highlighting the DP World Tour’s remarkable achievement. In 2023, the DP World Tour managed to increase its revenue from ticket sales by an impressive 43%, compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Notably, the four major tournaments (excluding Majors) showed substantial increases. The BMW PGA Championship saw a 41% rise in revenue compared to 2019, while the Genesis Scottish Open more than doubled its ticket sales revenue. Overall attendance for the four events, including the BMW PGA Championship, Genesis Scottish Open, Horizon Irish Open, and Betfred British Masters, exhibited a slight upward trend, with nearly 300,000 attendees – around 30,000 more than the previous year. The Ladies European Tour also reported modest increases in audience numbers, with a 20% rise at the KPMG Irish Open in late August.

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the DP World Tour, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “Golf is gaining popularity and attracting a more diverse audience. The numbers confirm this, and the biggest events of the DP World Tour in the UK and Ireland have never been more popular. We are witnessing a similar trend in our historic national Opens across Europe. The natural outdoor appeal of golf led people to try the sport at a record pace in 2020, and the DP World Tour is now reaping the benefits. Golfers of all ages want to witness the world’s best players showcasing their skills, and we are focused on ensuring that our audience experience meets their expectations.”

Record Year for the British Open

The pinnacle of golf in the UK, the British Open, also celebrated significant success. Since 2019, all tournament days have been sold out, and the 151st Open in 2023 recorded a 30% increase in attendance compared to the previous edition at Royal Liverpool in 2014. The growing popularity of the tournament led to the introduction of a ticket lottery in 2022 to accommodate the surging demand.


R&A Announces Update to World Handicap System

Just a year after the introduction of the World Handicap System (WHS) in Germany, the R&A has unveiled its first update. Scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2024, this update is part of an ongoing review of handicapping rules and the Course Rating System, with a continued focus on accuracy, consistency, and fairness.

More Precision, Fexibility and Fairness in the World Handicap System

The WHS changes aim to enhance precision, flexibility, and fairness within the handicap system. One significant adjustment is the evaluation of shorter golf courses, achieved by substantially reducing the minimum length requirements. This alteration allows more golfers to submit their scores, resulting in an increased number of players obtaining a Handicap Index. Additionally, the calculation of scores for unplayed holes will now utilize the expected score instead of the net par score. Furthermore, the Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) will be adjusted more frequently to better accommodate unusual playing conditions. The update also includes improved guidance for handicap reviews, featuring new report tools for handicap committees.

Changes to the World Handicap System acoording to the R&A

Inclusion of Shorter Golf Courses in the Course Rating System: The total length requirements for Course Rating in the WHS will be significantly reduced. On an 18-hole course, a set of tee markers can now have a minimum length of 1,370 meters to qualify for a Course Rating and Slope Rating. For a 9-hole course, the minimum length is only 685 meters. This change aims to extend the WHS to thousands of shorter courses, including Par-3 courses, enabling more golfers to obtain and utilize a Handicap Index.

Use of an Expected Score for Unplayed Holes: Improvements have been made to the method of handling unplayed holes. The calculation now relies on a player’s expected score instead of the net par score. This method provides a 9-hole or 18-hole score differential that more accurately reflects a player’s skill. Considering the increasing popularity of 9-hole rounds worldwide, the expected score can also be used to convert a 9-hole round into an 18-hole score differential.

Frequent Adjustments to Playing Conditions Calculation: The Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) has been modified to increase the likelihood of adjustments for unusual playing conditions. National associations have had the option to introduce this change into their calculation platforms since July 2022, with implementation expected to be completed by April 1, 2024, at the latest.

Improved Guidance for Conducting a Handicap Review: The role of the Handicap Committee is crucial to the success of the WHS. The rules recommend a regular handicap review, at least once a year, to ensure that the Handicap Index accurately reflects a player’s skill. New report tools have been developed, which national associations can integrate into their handicap software to assist committees in the effective and consistent execution of the review process.

Panorama Uncategorized

Golfers with disabilities set to shine at inaugural G4D Open

Kris Aves and Ellie Perks are among leading golfers with disabilities from across the world keen to shine at the inaugural G4D Open next week.

The tournament is staged in partnership with the R&A and the DP World Tour. It is golf’s most inclusive event according to the World Ranking for Golfers with disabilities and has players of all ages, males and females, amateurs and professionals, with handicaps ranging from +4.7 to 35.9.

Aves and Perks have both shown great determination in their lives to thrive in the sport and are relishing the chance to play at Woburn from 10.-12. May.

Kris Aves: “I didn’t think I’d ever play golf again”

Aves from North London is a 41-year-old former Met Police officer who was injured in the terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge in March 2017. Struck by the attacker’s car, he received severe spinal injuries that left him paralysed from the waist down.

A keen golfer before the attack, Aves spent a week in induced coma and went on to spend ten months at Stoke Mandeville Hospital after three weeks at King’s College Hospital for surgery. His legs and spine sufferd compound fractures which needed corrective surgery.

“Going through my rehab in hospital, there were three things I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to do properly again,” he says. “One was that I didn’t think I’d ever play golf again.”

Through a mutual contact, he met Cai Menai-Davis of The Shire London who runs a charity called The Golf Trust, which focuses on getting individuals with disabilities and older people out on the golf course. Aves has been able to play with the aid of a ParaGolfer – a special mobility device that lifts people from a sitting to a standing position.

“I got inside and was able to make a swing,” he said. “That first hit brought tears to my eyes. Even though I knew I’d never get back to the standard I had been, I was able to play again.”

Kris realised he needed to get his own ParaGolfer, costing upwards of £20,000.“I was extremely lucky,” he added. “At a pub I drink in called The Railway Tavern in Barnet, the landlord Kieran Guthrie is a big golfer and he put on a golf day for me, they did a raffle, an auction, and they raised £17,000 in one day and I was able to buy a ParaGolfer. It was phenomenal that so many people came out to raise money for me.”

Now Aves is looking forward to appearing in The G4D Open and said, “I was over the moon to get a place. I’m looking forward to meeting people from across Europe and around the world and seeing how well I perform against the seated golfers. But, really, I’m looking forward to simply taking part.”

Perks: “I can’t recommend golf highly enough for anyone”

Perks, from Hagley in the West Midlands, has been playing golf since she was seven-years-old. Now aged 18, she is an accomplished golfer with a handicap of 11 and plays an active role in encouraging other young people with disabilities to start playing.

“I can’t recommend golf highly enough for anyone, whether they have a disability or not,” she said. “To be able to get out, to play, to meet new people. It’s a special sport.”

Perks was introduced to a group called Golf for Disabled Children by the Hagley head pro Gareth Snelgrove, who has been Ellie’s coach since she began playing, and she now does volunteer coaching for the organisation. In addition, Perks has also been working with Dwarf Sports, running a golfing taster session.

“I wanted to be able to get other people with dwarfism involved as there are not many people who have dwarfism and play golf,” she added. “I didn’t think I’d have many people turn up to the session, but in the end, I had about 30. It was quite exciting to see that people were coming to give golf a try, and so I’ve been doing them every month since then.”

Perks, who has also been active in promoting EDGA and participated in a number of events including the Rose Series, has rightly been recognised for her endeavours. In 2019, when she was just 14, she became the first girl to be presented with England Golf’s Hero’s Handshake Award, which celebrates what young people are achieving in golf outside of just competition.

Ahead of The G4D Open, she said, “I’m very much looking forward to it. It is a new championship and hopefully the first of many. I’m excited to get to see old friends and meet new people and to just have fun – that it is the most important thing. Hopefully I will be able to walk away from the championship knowing that I have enjoyed myself no matter what the result is.”

A field of 80 male and female players will assemble to compete over the Duchess Course at Woburn, representing 19 countries. Fourteen of the top-20 players from the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) are in the field, which can be viewed on The R&A website. Spectators are welcome to attend next week’s G4D Open free of charge and enjoy watching the championship.

Amateur Tours

England Sweep the R&A Boys’ and Girls’ Home Internationals

England not only made history by winning the first ever combined team format for boys and girls in the R&A Home Internationals, they swept all three competitions, winning the combined event and the boys’ and girls’ competitions too.

England topped the combined final leaderboard with a perfect three points from three wins, Ireland was second with two points, Wales and Scotland took half a point each, with the Welsh side finishing third thanks to more matches won.

Already in pole position heading into the final day and just needing to defeat Scotland to top the points table, England made sure of victory right from the start with a 6-1 win in the foursomes. England then dominated the singles too with an 11-3 advantage to beat the home team 17-4.

“We got out fast today,” England captain Stephen Burnett said. “We changed things around for the foursomes and they smashed it this morning. They did this afternoon too. The team bats deeps, and in a way the format favours us because the more players there are the better it is for us, but they still had to go out there and do it. I couldn’t be prouder of them to win all three trophies. The team was fantastic, they prepared well, played well and it’s a great result.”

Ireland assured themselves of second place with a 12½-8½ win over Wales. The Welsh provided strong resistance early on by splitting the foursomes session 3½-3½. However, the Emerald Isle players proved too strong in head to head play, taking the singles 9-5.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my players over the last three days, especially the last two,” Irish captain Peter English said.

“It was a fantastic performance. We’ve got quite a few debutants, players that are available next year and the year after. It shows we’re on the way up and we have a lot to build on for next year. We haven’t had the exposure for the last couple of years, and it’s critical they do get this exposure. It gives them important international experience for their development.”

Welsh skipper Llew Matthews also left Downfield feeling immensely proud of his team.
“We played well in the foursomes this week and this morning to split the session, but the Irish came out fighting this afternoon and played a lot of good golf,” the 2007 Walker Cup player said.

“We played good golf throughout the tournament which perhaps doesn’t show up in the scores, and I’m proud of them. There’s been great camaraderie, great togetherness. It’s been a great learning experience for them, and they have something to build on for the future.”

While it’s perhaps unfair to pick out one player from the 64 on show, one deserves special mention. Scotland’s Niall Shiels Donegan was the only player to emerge with a 100% record from his six matches.

“Niall was brilliant this week,” Scottish captain Susan Jackson said. “He’s been a real leader, he’s led the team, he’s confident and he’s had great team work with his team mates. To win six matches out of six is very impressive.”

The best juniors in Great Britain and Ireland will convene at Lindrick Golf Club, the 1957 Ryder Cup venue, for the 2023 R&A Boys’ and Girls’ Home Internationals.
Press Release by The R&A


Study: More golf played in 2022 than ever before

2022 continues to see strong performance for golf and the golf industry. Sports Marketing Surveys’ ongoing Rounds Played monitor shows that quarter one rounds played across Great Britain rose by 7% against pre-pandemic figures. The finding is the latest in a long line of statistics indicating the sustained rise in appeal of golf and follows the news that 4.8m people played golf on a full-length course in Great Britain in 2021, the second highest figure on record.  

Rounds played comparisons with Q1 2021 are asymmetrical because of widespread lockdowns and course closures in the first months of last year. The second half of March 2020 was also lost to the virus. The growth against 2019 and 2018 is a better indication of golf’s current position of strength.

Golf is more popular than ever before

The major growth came in the month of March, which, as well as having the highest number of average rounds also recorded the fastest growth, seeing a 22% surge against 2019. In regional terms, the North was Q1’s best performer, up 27% against 2019. Other regions enjoyed strong performances, with only the Midlands (-1%) not recording growth.

The news was welcomed by SMS’ Director, Richard Payne. “Yet again the data indicates what we have seen throughout the pandemic, that golf is in a strong position. A lot of commentators expected the appetite to dwindle fast, but, knowing golf well, we were always confident and we are again delighted to see that the data keeps showing that the game has thrived since the pandemic began. Golf is delivering so many great benefits that people want from sport – access to fresh air and natural beauty, low impact healthy exercise, socialising, inter-generational play. It will be a real shame if rising living costs destabilise that in the months to come, forcing people to give up some of the things that keep them happy and healthy.”

Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said, “It is very encouraging to see again the positive data for rounds played in Great Britain in the first quarter of 2022. This builds on previous insight which showed that golf was on the rise pre-pandemic and continues to be a sport attractive to golfers across all levels of the game – including the use of full-length courses, driving ranges and alternative golf venues. Golfers are enjoying the wonderful physical and mental health benefits the sport provides and taking up a wide range of participation initiatives on offer. It is vital for the sport to maintain this momentum.”

(Text: Sports Marketing Surveys)

Highlights Tours

Celebrity champions: R&A plans special event ahead of 150th British Open

The time has come again in mid-July. With the British Open in St. Andrews, golf fans are in for an exciting and thrilling week. On the occasion of this year’s 150th anniversary of the Open, the R&A is organising several special events before the top-class field of participants s tarts the official tournament.

Open week kicks off with Champions event

One of the special events kicks off on Monday of tournament week, 11 July 2022, with the Celebration of Champions seeing former Open, Women’s Major, male and female amateur and handicap winning golfers compete in a 4-hole tournament on the St Andrews Links Course. The 1st, 2nd, 17th and 18th holes will be played by a field of 48 golfers and this will also be broadcast live on

“We are bringing together the biggest names in golf with current and future stars of the sport for a unique event on the Old Course,” said Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive. In addition, Slumbers added that the R&A Celebration of Champions will be a real highlight of this special and eventful week. Among the 48 golfers, current Open champion Collin Morikawa will also be competing at the event, with the American feeling very honoured.

British Open to take centre stage in upcoming golf documentary

The 150th British Open will be the focus of the Netflix-produced golf documentary and golf fans will get to see insights about the proceedings of the anniversary week. Particularly from the pros’ point of view, there will be some footage worth watching that has not been revealed in this way before. There will be special coverage of Collin Morikawa’s mission to defend his title, but also of Major winners Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and numerous other pros. In addition, the world’s number one amateur Keita Nakajima makes his Open debut and offers the viewers interesting insights in the process.


Rounds played rise for fourth consecutive year in Great Britain

A strong end to 2021 kept the annual number of rounds of golf played in Great Britain ahead of 2020 and 2019. 

Continuing growth of golf in the UK

As expected, there was some drop off against the peak months in 2020 when lockdowns ended and golf reopened to a groundswell of pent-up demand. In October and December 2020 rounds played were well above equivalent levels in previous years. Although in 2021 quarter four could not maintain the strong 2020 demand levels, it still outperformed previous seasons. When compared against the pre-pandemic period, 2021 surged past equivalent figures from 2019. Against Q4 2019, for example, 2021 was up 40%, contributing to a year-end 17% rise in rounds played against 2019.
While it is hard to make exact comparisons with 2020 because of course closures and the subsequent rush for tee times, the comparisons with 2019 do suggest an enduring uptick in the popularity of golf in the UK. 
Taking a longer-term view, rounds played have now risen for four consecutive years. 2021’s annual rounds were up 12% against 2020 and 17% against both 2019 and 2018.

Richard Payne, Director of Sports Marketing Surveys welcomed the figures, while noting the potential impact of rising living costs in the year ahead.
“First and foremost, it’s great to see rounds played growing, proving that demand for golf is strong as we head into an exciting 2022. Rising costs and inflation are likely to put pressure on leisure budgets this year and so, particularly for those who came into golf during the pandemic, the key question now is how embedded has it become in their sporting and lifestyle DNA. Is it a core hobby that they will continue to play even if the costs of access and equipment rise in line with inflation in other areas of the economy? The strong results for Q4 do suggest golfers continuing to play through the inclement winter months, and so we are optimistic that people will stay in the game.”

Phil Anderson wants to continue to make golf more accessible

Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, welcomed the results. He said: “We have seen full-length course user golf participation rise to over 66 million worldwide in 2021 and almost 11 million in Europe. The rounds played for Great Britain in 2021 continue to support the evidence that more golfers are playing more often and realising the benefits of the sport for their physical and mental health. Golf, however, cannot become complacent as a sport and the industry must grasp the opportunity to maintain this interest by offering new and returning golfers the opportunity to stay in the sport and enjoy it at all levels – from traditional forms to new formats.”
Sports Marketing Surveys has been tracking rounds played in Great Britain for over 20 years but the monitor continues to evolve. For that reason, Sports Marketing Surveys is formalising a partnership with the Revenue Club to track online golf bookings, and ensure the rounds played monitor gathers as much data from as many different sources as possible.

(Text: Sports Marketing Surveys)


Football star Gareth Bale becomes golf ambassador for R&A

Gareth Bale is considered a superstar in professional football. The Welshman has amassed up to 100 million followers on his social media platforms through his successes at Real Madrid. The 32-year-old has also been playing golf himself for several years and now has an impressive 2 handicap. Now Bale’s affinity for golf is to be used to spread the sport further internationally.

R&A wants to expand the target group for golf

Bale wants to use his passion for golf for a partnership with the British Golf Association R&A, which organises the Open every year, to inspire more people to play golf and to reduce possible barriers to entry. In addition to Bale, Irish songwriter Niall Horan and golf management company “Modest!Golf” are also working with the R&A, which was founded in 2004. “We want to reach new audiences who are not yet aware of the many benefits of golf, including health and wellbeing,” explains Phil Anderton, R&A’s Chief Development Officer. Moreover, he firmly believes that this could improve golf’s reputation among millions of followers.

Welshman Gareth Bale has long been known for his enthusiasm for golf. In the past, Bale supported the European Tour at a golf tournament in his home country and often appeared on the golf course on social media. His boyhood club Tottenham Hotspurs even had short golf holes built for Bale at their training facility. “Gareth’s passion for golf is there for everyone to see and he will play an influential role in supporting the new golf initiatives,” Anderton said regarding the partnership with Bale.

Gareth Bale’s golf affinity draws criticism

Gareth Bale’s enthusiasm for golf, however, is far from pleasing all of his millions of followers. With the Welshman barely performing at Real Madrid in recent months, many followers are critical of his golf affinity. “Wales.Golf.Real Madrid. In order” was written on a flag Gareth Bale used to celebrate after scoring a goal for the Welsh national team. Bale faced a lot of criticism for this action and has since been ridiculed by many of his supporters when he shows up on the golf course. Accordingly, the partnership with R&A did not go down well with everyone either. For example, Bale was called a “golfer who plays football now and then” or asked whether he had been playing golf during Real Madrid’s defeat. However, some people are open to this partnership and are looking forward to the upcoming projects.