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The Loop

Could video games get more people to take up golf?

September 13, 2012

How do we grow the game of golf? It's a question many around the sport -- from organizations like the USGA and PGA of America, to magazines like Golf Digest -- ask often.

But it turns out there are a lot more people playing golf than thought. It's just that their rounds aren't being documented. The reason? The participants are playing from their couches.

A recent study by the National Golf Foundation has estimated that 45.5 million Americans who don't play golf do play golf video games.


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Another stat of note in the study is that the percentage of females playing golf video games (44 percent) is more than double the percentage of females who actually play golf (19 percent). In other words, this virtual participation indicates that there is potential for a lot more people, especially women, to start playing golf, especially once they learn that the real thing can be more rewarding than what they're experiencing on a screen. And they might even keep it up, provided they don't get too discouraged by the scores they'd shoot when the leave the comfy confines of their homes.

Not surprisingly, a large percentage of the roughly 25 million Americans who play golf (about 40 percent) also engage in golf video games. But they make up less than 20 percent of the total number of people playing those games.

So why aren't all these people playing Tiger Woods Golf on Playstation showing up at actual courses? Well, the fact that nearly one third of them are younger (ages 6-17) shows that the game could be in the process of growing after all. We may just have to wait for some of these kids to outgrow their controllers.