Updated on January 27, 2024 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Golf travel is considered a major activity both as a direct form of special interest travel and as an adjunct to other forms of travel. The golf tourism industry had experienced consistent growth Y-on-Y just before the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry took a hit from the pandemic just like every other sector, but that negative impact hasn’t been felt that much by golf travel tour operators as the industry is currently witnessing a sharp resurgence to its position just before the pandemic.

The year 2023 was a banner year for golf tourism. After a few years of pandemic-related setbacks, golfers around the world were finally free to dust off their clubs and hit the links in exotic locales. From sun-drenched Caribbean islands to the rolling hills of Scotland, golf courses were buzzing with activity.

But just how big was the golf tourism boom in 2023? And what were the hottest destinations for golf enthusiasts? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the latest golf tourism stats and trends, revealing the most popular destinations, spending habits, and emerging player demographics. So, whether you’re a seasoned golf globetrotter or a weekend warrior planning your next escape, buckle up and get ready to tee off on some fascinating travel insights.

Explained below are some of the top trends in the golf travel industry.


  1. As golf rises in popularity with the ageing population of many Western nations, more markets are emerging. The golf industry is more a global market than it has ever been.
  2. The majority of the golf courses are in North America (49%), while Europe holds second place (22%), Asia (16%) and South America (5%).
  3. The US is the largest market with a total participation of 25.6 million golfers in 2023.
  4. The competition in golf tourism is increasing and prominent players in traditional markets are being challenged by emerging golf destinations such as Mexico, Egypt, China, Malaysia, and Thailand.
  5. A recent survey revealed that 36% of golfers prioritize high-quality facilities when choosing a golf holiday location.
  6. Destinations experiencing the fastest growth in popularity include:
    1. South Africa: +28% year-on-year growth.
    2. Turkey: +25% year-on-year growth.
    3. Abu Dhabi: +22% year-on-year growth.
    4. Dubai: +20% year-on-year growth.
    5. Mauritius: +18% year-on-year growth
  7. Governments of various countries are capitalizing on the growing popularity of golf by creating an exhaustive and coordinated framework to promote golf tourism in their countries.
    1. Spain: Launched a national golf tourism strategy focused on sustainability and diversification.
    2. Portugal: Introduced tax incentives for international golfers and invested in new courses.
    3. Vietnam: Developed a master plan to position itself as a premier golf tourism destination in Southeast Asia

Industry Insight

  1. Golf tourism is enjoying sustained growth, driven by increasing interest in recreational sports and declining participation in competitive golf.
  2. North America has the largest market for golf tourism with 49% of global golf tourism revenue due to rising disposable income and leisure spending.
  3. 78% of golfers now consider golf primarily a leisure activity, compared to 62% in 2019.
  4. Golf tourism represents the high-end segment of the tourism industry, with golfers spending 30-50% more than average tourists.
  5. The global tours and travel market is projected to reach $1,063.00 billion by 2028, with golf playing a significant role.
  6. Various countries have recognized that golf tourists tend to spend more than average tourists.
  7. Recognizing the economic benefits, 62% of countries with significant golf tourism offerings have increased investment in infrastructure and marketing.
  8. Spain, Portugal, and Vietnam are prime examples of countries implementing dedicated golf tourism strategies.
  9. In Europe, there were about 1 million golf players registered in 2023 and about 6800 registered golf clubs.
  10. England leads Europe in registered golfers, with 692,500 players, followed by Germany’s 651,417. Scotland’s 188 thousand golfers showcase the country’s enduring love for the sport.
  11. While Ireland and Wales may not boast the same numbers as England and Germany, their 183 thousand and 45 thousand registered golfers respectively demonstrate the passion for golf across the UK.
  12. Golf attracts thousands of new travellers every year, both as the primary motivation for travel and as a secondary activity.
  13. 87% of consumers use their phones to book travel activities, including restaurant reservations and sightseeing tours.
  14. Online platforms and travel apps are increasingly popular for booking golf vacations and tee times.
  15. The golf tourism market size overall in the United States is $27.24 billion
  16. The global golf tourism market is expected to reach $46.05 billion by 2032, with a CAGR of 4% during the forecast period 2024-2032.
  17. 9.5 million golfers are estimated to play 62.3 million rounds while travelling for leisure or business in 2023, indicating a rising number of participants.

Motives & Habits of Golf Tourists

  1. Golf has become a strategic tool of governments in many emerging key markets to give them a competitive edge – aiming to modify seasonal visitation and extend the tourism season for golf lovers.
  2. 72% of emerging markets with significant golf tourism potential are actively leveraging golf as a strategic tool to boost tourism and extend seasons.
  3. Examples include Morocco, Thailand, and Vietnam, implementing dedicated golf tourism strategies and attracting new players.
  4. 81% of golf tourists prioritize experiential activities beyond the course, seeking to create lasting memories, away from the fairways
  5. About 68% of golf tourists have absorbed the so-called ‘snacking’ culture and they want to collect as many experiences as possible during multiple short trips instead of one longer trip.
  6. Hotels are the most preferred accommodation for 54% of golf tourists.
  7. 47% of the 6 million golfers worldwide travel internationally with golf as a primary vacation motivation.
  8. Active and frequent golfers are 23% more likely to travel for golf than casual players, both domestically and internationally.
  9. Baby Boomers are increasingly seeking multigenerational travel experiences, incorporating non-golfing family members and diverse activities.
  10. 76% of today’s golf tourists are willing to spend more on their ideal golf trip, prioritizing flexibility, variety, and unique experiences.
  11. Personalized itineraries, curated activities, and exclusive access are becoming increasingly important for high-spending golf travellers.


  1. Baby Boomers are still driving most of the travel trends. However, younger golfers are beginning to face changes in resort amenities and golf package itineraries.
  2. Around 40% of all golfers in the U.S. are now millennials, a significant jump from earlier estimates.
  3. While Baby Boomers still hold the largest share, Gen Z is rapidly entering the scene, with 14 million expressing interest in playing on-course golf.
  4. Approximately 6 million people play golf worldwide with 25.6 million of these residing in the United States, 10.6 million in Europe, 5.7 million in Canada, 10 million in Japan, and 4.2 million in the United Kingdom.
  5. Around 4 million golfers in the U.S. are now millennials.
  6. Juniors and young adults (6-34 years old) now comprise roughly 38% of on-course golfers in the U.S., with 6 million women playing golf on a course, representing 22% of all golfers and 40% of off-course participants.
  7. 39% of adult golfers in 2023 took a trip for business or leisure with an overnight stay during which they played at least one round of golf.
  8. Golf package itineraries are becoming more flexible and customizable, catering to individual interests and preferences beyond just the golf course itself.

Other Industry Trends

  1. Road trips are popular among golf travellers, with nearly 32% willing to drive over eight hours one way for a golf vacation, and 76% open to journeys exceeding four hours.
  2. About 5 to 10% travel worldwide with the sole purpose of playing golf. This number has been steadily increasing over the years as more countries embrace golf tourism as a key source of foreign exchange.
  3. The nature of jobs has already changed and people are getting an increased amount of leisure time available for activities such as golf tourism.
  4. Due to the ease of transport that comes with cheaper international travel, travellers can move to various locations to take part in golf events more often.
  5. A golf course has become a very lucrative attraction for many new tourist destinations. New venues in host locations are creating promising opportunities in the golf tourism sector.
  6. Remote working has invented a new trend in the tourism industry where people travel and work from their vacation spots.
  7. European golfers on week-long golf holidays spend an average of €250 per day, with only 26% going directly towards golf. The remaining 74% covers travel, accommodation, food, and other expenses.
  8. People are spending more time than ever researching trips before booking with an average of 42 days between research initiation and booking.
  9. Tour package vendors are coming up with offers such as individual low-price or even zero-price overnight stays to attract customers.
  10. Baby Boomers are still driving most golf travel trends, however, younger golfers are beginning to impact changes in resort amenities and golf package itineraries.
  11. The incidence of golf travel increases with income — 54% of golfers with a household income of $100,000 are likely to take a golf trip in any given year, compared to 38% of those with lower incomes.
  12. The Golf Tourism industry is highly competitive and comprises numerous regional and international players.
  13. Social media isn’t just a tool for tour operators to drive engagement, it has also become a customer service platform.
  14. Golf events such as the PGA TOUR playoffs and the U.S. Open have been encouraging recreational golfers to get out and play. Live streaming, social media coverage, and amateur tournaments create a buzz that translates into increased participation.

Golf Tourism Market Growth – A Closer Look

Recent golf travel statistics consistently show that the golf tourism market is experiencing growth worldwide. A recent research report has also indicated that these trends are expected to continue – in the domestic segment, North America, and across many Western nations, the Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Australia.

Golf resorts and tour operators are eager to fight for their market share during this growth phase and to persuade as many new travellers as possible to end up on their golf courses.

As the golf tourism market report from Stratview Research indicated, high standards of living increase the adoption of golf as a leisure activity among the high-income population. It also found that the strong presence of golf-playing areas drives the golf tourism market.


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