Never before have Swedes played so much golf. In the year of the pandemic, the Nordic country broke the record for number of rounds, with a total of more than 11 million and an average of 23 per player. It also increased the number of golfers by 11.2 per cent compared with 2019. Incredible – but true. Here we look into the miracle of Swedish golf in 2020…
In the first year of COVID-19, Swedish golf once again topped the barrier of half a million federation-registered golfers, something that had not happened for a decade. Furthermore, the country achieved this by experiencing an incredible increase in the number of players compared with 2019: a rise of 11.2 per cent, from 484,514 to 538,962 golfers – that is, 54,448 more. That number is close to the record for federation licences registered in one year in Sweden: 554,293 in 2004.
Overall, Swedes played more than 11.6 million rounds last year on the country's nearly 500 golf courses, averaging 23.1 rounds per player. Never before have Swedes played so much golf in their country. In fact, 2020 was the first year that 11 million rounds had been reached during one single season. Approximately eight million were rounds played by club members and the rest by green fee-paying players.
These figures represent a 42 per cent increase compared with 2019; in numerical terms, almost 3.5 million more rounds! In 2020, Swedish golfers booked and played 3,464,416 more rounds than the previous year, when a total of 8.2 million were played. The number of rounds by club members increased by 51 per cent and guests’ rounds by 33 per cent.
This surprising boost in golf played in Sweden during 2020 could be due to a combination of factors, including good weather, an early start to the season (usually between May and October) and the fact that golf is an especially healthy leisure activity during pandemic times. In addition, golfers didn’t travel abroad as often as usual to play during autumn and winter.
Another factor that should be taken into account is the extensive range and variety of courses in Sweden, with some created by such renowned designers as Robert Trent Jones Jr., Jack Nicklaus and Kyle Phillips. The country’s stunning natural landscapes also make playing golf in Sweden not only a sporting but also an aesthetic delight – with golf courses immersed in outstandingly attractive settings.
Regarding the increase in federation players, the greatest increase in 2020 occurred in the age group between one and 21 years, with an increase of 34.7 per cent and a total of 61,839 – 15,914 more than in 2019. This segment covering children and young people represents 11.5 per cent of the total number of officially registered Swedish golfers.
As for comparisons by sex, 73.4 per cent of all Swedish golfers are men (and boys) and 26.3 per cent women (and girls). The latter totalled 141,730 in 2020: that is, 11,980 more compared with 2019 (an increase of 9.2 per cent). The number of male players increased even more (by 12 per cent).
In contrast to the increase in rounds played and active golfers, the number of courses decreased slightly in 2020, with six lost compared with the previous year, down to a total of 448, of which 405 are non-profit clubs or associations.
In terms of geographical areas or districts, the one that registered the highest increase in the number of golfers in 2020 was Stockholm, with 26,393 new registrations – 48 per cent of the total increase registered in Sweden last year. The numbers in other districts (21 across the country) increased by between 300 and 5,700 golfers, except Östergötland, which decreased slightly.
• The Swedish golf club with the most members in 2020 was Ekholmsnäs Golf (22,934), followed by Cloud Golf Club (17,703) and Bryttsätter Golfklubb (13,172). The average membership per club in Sweden was 1,203, an increase of 136 members per club compared with 2019.
• The average age of Swedish golfers was 48.6 years, which in relation to 2019 represented a “rejuvenation” of 1.5 years, due – among other factors – to the fact that the 22 to 30-year age group was significant among new golfers in 2020. The largest age group of Swedish golfers was 51 to 60 years. Women were 53.4 years old on average, and men 46.9 years.
• The average handicap among Swedes in 2020 was 25.1, increasing by 0.9 compared with 2019, although this increase is not entirely computable due to the introduction of a new handicap system and the addition of so many new golfers.