From Realtà Mapei International n° 76 - 10/10/2019
Contrary to popular belief, golf is one of the most widely played and followed sports in the world. We just need to think about the Ryder Cup, one of the most important tournaments played every two years between teams made up of the best players from the United States and Europe, which is the third most followed televised event in the world after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.
Recently the R&A, or the Royal & Ancient, the ruling authority on the game of golf around the world (apart from the United States and Mexico), in cooperation with 110 National Federations, published the result of a study that had been carried out on the spread of the game of golf and new golf courses around the world; at the beginning of 2017 there were 33,161 golf courses distributed throughout 208 of the 245 countries in the world (around 85% of the countries).
Even though it is a very popular sport it is mainly concentrated in certain areas, with 74% of all golf clubs located in just 10% of countries: Canada, United States, Japan, England, Australia, Germany, France, Scotland, Sweden and South Africa. This figure then rises to 89% if we consider the top 20% of countries, with the majority of courses located in the western hemisphere. The United States alone accounts for 45% of the world's total, with Europe in second place with 22%, followed by Asia (14%) and Oceania (6%).
Even though this sport has been traditionally associated with private clubs, where play is essentially restricted to members only, the trend now spreading around the world is for public courses: Without being a member of a club you can use the course through offers such as “pay and play”.
Another development is connected to the fact that nowadays golf is not only a sport or hobby, it is also, above all, a way of promoting and attracting tourism. The United States in particular took advantage of the boom in the number of new golf courses during the 1990’s and, in an attempt to hold on to their members and bring a fresh new look to the game, a number of clubs started to remodel their structures by introducing activities that required less playing time but increased the level of gratification, making it possible to achieve results more quickly on the course.
This led to driving ranges being extended, par-3 courses with 9 holes or less were built, informal courses for putting practice were introduced, 18-hole courses with 3-hole and 6-hole circuits were built and practice areas to improve your short game were introduced.
Then, at the beginning of the 2000’s, while practicing on the driving range to improve their swing, the Jolliffe brothers from England came up with a genial idea: to improve the playing experience even more by including other forms of entertainment. This idea took form by uniting the presence of a driving range for golfers with other forms of amusement and entertainment: which is how TEG, or Topgolf Entertainment Group, was founded.