Golf is a sport enjoyed by millions of people all around the world. The vast green landscapes, fresh air and gentle breeze make it one of the most popular leisure sports on the planet. With such high demand for golf courses, it’s no surprise there are many scattered throughout different regions across the globe.
Have you ever wondered just how many golf courses are in the world? This question may seem simple enough, but the answer is more complex than you think. There are countless factors that determine if a piece of land can be developed into a golf course – topography, location, vegetation, water sources and soil types to name a few.
Despite these hurdles, golfs’ popularity means new courses are constantly being built, leading to an impressive number of venues available worldwide. From public courses open to anyone with reasonable fees to exclusive private clubs accessible only to members, the variety of choices is vast.
If you’re curious about how many golf courses there really are out there in the world, read on. Discover some facts and figures behind this exciting sport!
Discover the Exact Number of Golf Courses Worldwide
Golf has been a popular sport for centuries, and today there are thousands of golf courses spread across the globe. But exactly how many golf courses are there in the world? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think.
The Growth of Golf Courses Globally
Over the past few decades, the number of golf courses in the world has grown at a steady pace. According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), there were around 35,000 golf courses worldwide in 2019. This represents an increase of almost 20% since the year 2000.
The growth of golf courses globally has been driven by increasing demand from both professional and amateur players. In many countries, golf has become more accessible to people of all ages and income levels, leading to a rise in new golf course construction and upgrades to existing facilities. However, some experts suggest that this trend may be slowing down due to economic factors and shifting demographics.
Golf Course Trends and Predictions
In recent years, there have been several notable trends in the golf course industry. One major shift has been towards more environmentally sustainable practices. Many golf courses have implemented strategies to reduce water consumption, pesticide use, and other harmful impacts on local ecosystems.
Another trend has been the rise of “destination” golf courses. These high-end facilities often offer luxurious amenities, scenic locations, and challenging layouts designed by famous architects. Destination courses can attract wealthy tourists and provide a significant boost to local economies.
Looking ahead, some analysts predict that the global golf course market will continue to grow slowly but steadily. However, others argue that changing consumer preferences, technological advances, and economic instability could disrupt the industry in unpredictable ways.
“Golf courses should be beautiful and fun both for the pros and average players. At some places, too much emphasis is on making it difficult. That scares away average golfers, and that’s not a good thing for our sport.” – Annika Sorenstam, retired professional golfer
While we don’t know exactly how many golf courses there are in the world today, we do know that the industry continues to evolve rapidly. From sustainable practices to high-end destinations, golf courses will continue to offer unique experiences for players of all skill levels.
The Countries with the Most and Least Golf Courses
Golf, known as a sport of precision and patience has been around since the 15th century. Over time, golf courses have become more elaborate with the inclusion of natural landscapes. The availability of land is one factor that influences the popularity of golf courses. Some countries are blessed with an abundance of such land, making it easier for them to build golf courses.
The Top 5 Countries with the Most Golf Courses
- United States – The United States tops the list with over 15,000 golf courses. This figure accounts for nearly half of all golf courses in the world. Hosting several major events like the Masters and the US Open, America’s love affair with golf continues to strengthen.
- Japan – With over 2,400 golf courses, Japan comes second on the list. Thanks to its aging population who prefer leisurely activities, the growth rate of golf’s popularity among older adults is increasing rapidly.
- Canada – Canada ranks third in the world with 2,298 golf courses. However, golf enthusiasts still believe that Canada can accommodate many more courses due to its vast space and scenic beauty.
- England – As of 2021, England boasts of having 1,900 golf courses within its borders. Whether its high-tech or traditional-style courses, this country has something for every golfer.
- Australia – Australia completes the top five nations with the most golf courses with over 1,700 across the continent. Many Australians consider golf to be their pastime and have developed excellent courses amidst stunning scenery.
The Bottom 5 Countries with the Least Golf Courses
- Afghanistan – Currently ranked as the country with the least golf courses in the world, Afghanistan has only one recognized course. Established in 1967 for US embassy personnel, the Kabul Golf Course is still operational despite the unstable environment.
- Bhutan – Known famously for being carbon-negative and its Gross National Happiness index, Bhutan also happens to be home to fewer than five golf courses. Nevertheless, these very few courses have extraordinary views of the Himalayan Mountain range.
- The Gambia – The small West African nation of Gambia ranks third from bottom, with just two 9-hole facilities. Despite building a promising facility near the coastline, Gambian authorities abandoned it unfinished due to financial constraints.
- Libya – Due to political instability, conflict, and the unfavorable weather conditions that could damage golf greens, Libya does not currently have any golf courses available to the public.
- Cyprus – Although this beautiful island located in the Eastern Mediterranean is a famous tourist destination, it surprisingly lacks many golf courses. With less than ten courses scattered around the island, Cypriot authorities are eager to nurture the growing interest among visitors and locals alike.
Factors Influencing Golf Course Popularity
Several factors contribute to the popularity of golf courses worldwide. Here are some of them:
“Golf courses attract families who come on vacation; they sell lots of retail products, so they keep people employed and bring tax dollars into an area,” says Leah Robinson, spokeswoman for the National Golf Foundation (NGF).
- Accessibility: The ease at which people can access golf courses plays a vital role in their popularity. It is no coincidence that the United States and Japan are top-ranked in this category because they have the most golf courses per capita compared to other countries.
- Cost: The price of green fees, equipment rentals and even caddies are significant factors when considering a golf course. Most people find expensive courses exclusive, hence would instead consider cheaper alternatives for casual games with friends or colleagues.
- Variety: With hundreds of thousands of golf courses worldwide, offering a unique experience gives them an edge over competitors. Courses can differentiate themselves by strategically placing water hazards or bunkers in challenging locations, which could challenge experienced players.
- Weather: A warmer climate attracts more golf enthusiasts. Countries like Thailand or Cuba that enjoy hot climates throughout the year naturally have more golf courses. Longer periods of sunshine hours mean extra time for play, resulting in more revenue generated through greens fees.
With the increasing demand and growth of the sport, more nations around the world are embracing golf as a means of leisurely activity and business strategy. Recently, there has been a trend away from designing courses that serve as PGA tour venues towards creating layouts that offer everyday enjoyment for amateurs.
The total number of golf courses continuously fluctuates due to several reasons such as expansions, mergers, downsizing, or environmental damage. However, according to Golf Today, it is estimated that globally, there are between 35,000 – 38,000 golf courses worldwide. Even though not every country loves golf equally, the global popularity cannot be ignored and continues to grow strong.
The Largest and Smallest Golf Courses in the World
Golf is a popular sport played by millions of people around the world. It’s estimated that there are over 38,000 golf courses in the world, with new ones being built every year. While some courses take up thousands of acres, others span only a few square meters. Let’s take a look at the largest and smallest golf courses in the world.
The Top 3 Largest Golf Courses in the World
Golf courses come in all shapes and sizes, but these three are the largest in terms of acreage:
- Mission Hills Golf Club – Shenzhen, China: This impressive club spans over 22 million square feet (or 4,080 acres), making it the largest golf course in the world. It boasts 12 different courses designed by renowned architects from around the globe.
- Prairie Dunes Country Club – Hutchinson, Kansas, USA: Coming in at number two, this country club covers an area of roughly 800 acres and features one of the best-rated golf courses in America.
- Finca Cortesin Golf Club – Andalusia, Spain: With its more than 7,200 yards of greens spanning across 532 acres, this beautiful resort offers a complete golfing experience to golfers of various levels.
The Smallest Golf Course in the World
While some golf courses are massive, others are incredibly small. In fact, there is a Guinness World Record for the smallest golf course in the world! The record-holding course is located in South Carolina, USA, and measures just 18 feet long and 3.5 feet wide. Despite its tiny size, the course still manages to be fully functional.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Size in Golf Courses
When it comes to golf courses, size is an important factor. Let’s take a look at some advantages and disadvantages that come with large and small golf courses:
- Advantages of Large Courses: Large courses provide a vast expanse for players to enjoy their game without feeling cramped. They typically have many different holes available, offering players diverse challenges. Additionally, large golf course landscapes often feature stunning scenery or beautiful vistas, providing both visual appeal and variety in each round of play.
- Disadvantages of Large Courses: Significant amounts of land are needed when building a large golf course, making them expensive not only to build but also to maintain. In addition, such courses can be physically exhausting, especially for older players who may struggle with walking long distances between shots. Navigation can also be problematic for first-time players as they may find it difficult to locate certain holes on the course due to its immense size.
- Advantages of Small Courses: With smaller golf courses, players don’t need to worry about navigating through a complicated landscape. As a result, they’re perfect for beginners or anyone looking for a quick round of golf without investing too much time. Also, because small golf courses require less maintenance and fewer resources than larger ones, they tend to be more affordable. As such, these courses are ideal for budget-conscious players.
- Disadvantages of Small Courses: The downsides to playing on small courses are primarily related to space constraints. The limited number of holes on a small course can make the experience feel repetitive after several rounds of play, and there’s less opportunity for interesting shot-making and varying challenges.
The Impact of Course Size on Player Experience
Course size can significantly impact golfers’ overall experience, including their enjoyment and satisfaction. This is especially true when playing a massive course with several courses, which may require more time and effort from players to complete in its entirety. Players may also face physical challenges such as long walks between holes or navigating through rough terrain.
“Playing on a large course requires much more planning and preparation than a smaller course,” says Denise L. Bergmann, Director of the PGA Professional Golf Management program at Humber College.
On the other hand, smaller courses are great for those who don’t want to spend all day on the greens, whether due to time limitations or age/physical ability restrictions. They provide quick and easy access beyond the game after finishing an entire round. The continuous nature of a small course not only creates a sense of progress, but it can be perfect for lazy social gameplay that doesn’t involve strict adherence to score rules.
“Smaller courses can help you work-on your short game and can offer rewarding practice opportunities if space issues are nonexistent.”- Ted Molloy, Head Pro at the Bel-Aire Country Club.
Irrespective of size and layout of the course, there’s one constant: golf remains a fun sport for players of various skill levels around the world. Whether cruising effortlessly (or getting warmed up) on a small green or taking on challenging landscapes over several acres or holes, it’s essential always to consider our preferences and wellness while picking a place to play this beautiful sport.
Interesting Facts and Figures About Golf Courses
Golf is a sport enjoyed by people all over the world, with courses ranging from pristine championship layouts to scrappy municipal tracks. Here are some interesting facts and figures about golf courses:
- There are approximately 38,864 golf courses worldwide as of 2020.
- The United States has the most golf courses in the world, with around 15,000 courses.
- Scotland, the home of golf, has between 550 and 600 golf courses, despite its small size.
- The longest golf course in the world is the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club in China, measuring 8,548 yards.
- The shortest regulation-length golf course in the world is the Cruz Golf Country Club in Bolivia, measuring just 4,183 yards.
- In 2019, the revenue generated by the global golf industry was estimated at $84 billion USD.
- Around 32 million Americans played on a golf course in 2019.
- About 43% of golfers live in households earning less than $100,000 annually.
- Golf courses cover approximately 2.7 million acres of land in the United States alone, roughly equivalent to the state of Delaware.
These facts and figures show that golf is both popular and economically significant, but it also underscores the need for responsible environmental stewardship given the amount of land consumed by golf courses.
The History of Golf Course Design and Architecture
Early iterations of golf were generally played on fields with natural hazards like creeks or shrubs adding an element of challenge. As golf grew more organized as a sport, the first specially-designed courses began to emerge. Here is a brief history of golf course design and architecture:
“The transformation of meadow or pasture-land into a ‘golf-links’ by art, science and skill alone has always seemed to me one of man’s most delightful and amazing triumphs over nature.” -Horace G. Hutchinson
In 1764, St Andrews Links became the first official golf course in the world, and soon other courses were developed throughout Scotland, England, and eventually North America. Early designs featured simple holes with challenging natural features like sand dunes, water hazards, and rocky outcroppings.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, golf course architecture became more intentional, with designers like Old Tom Morris and Alister MacKenzie pioneering new approaches to layout and landscaping. They designed courses with strategic bunkering, varied terrain, and expansive greens complexes to challenge and excite golfers.
Today, contemporary course architects like Jack Nicklaus and Gil Hanse have taken artistic license to new heights while still adhering to timeless principles laid down by their predecessors. Golf courses remain works of art as much as they are sporting venues, with each designer creating unique landscapes for players to enjoy.
The Most Expensive Golf Course in the World
Golf courses range from inexpensive municipal tracks to ultra-premium resort layouts. While many courses offer a great experience at an affordable price, there are some that require serious financial investment. Here we will explore the most expensive golf course in the world:
“Money can’t buy happiness… but it can certainly buy green fees to the best courses on earth.” -David Feherty
The Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas may be the most lavish course in the world. Originally built as a private club for casino magnate Steve Wynn, Shadow Creek is now open to limited public play with green fees ranging from $500 to $1,500 per round.
The course has been ranked among the best in the United States by multiple publications, and boasts features like man-made waterfalls, towering palms, and an expansive clubhouse outfitted with fine dining restaurants and luxurious locker rooms.
Of course, not everyone can afford to pay such exorbitant fees. For budget-conscious golfers, there are countless other courses offering great value without requiring a second mortgage on your home!
The Most Popular Golf Course Names in the US
If you’re someone who enjoys playing different golf courses around the country, it’s hard not to notice that certain names seem to crop up over and over again. Whether it’s Pinehurst or Pebble Beach, some courses have become synonymous with American golf. Here are some of the most popular golf course names in the U.S.:
- Pinehurst – Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in North Carolina is arguably the most famous golf resort in America, with nine world-class courses.
- Pebble Beach – This California coastal gem offers pristine ocean vistas and challenging greens that make it one of the most sought-after tee times in the country.
- Bethpage – Known primarily for hosting the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, Bethpage State Park in New York also attracts legions of everyday golfers thanks to its five top-notch courses.
- Augusta – Home of The Masters tournament, Augusta National Golf Club garners worldwide attention each April, but it remains out of reach for all but a few lucky guests.
- Sawgrass – TPC Sawgrass in Florida features one of the most recognizable holes in golf – the island green 17th on its Stadium Course.
These courses have earned their places in American golf lore due to their beauty, difficulty, and storied histories. Whether you’re a low-handicap player or a casual duffer, these courses offer experiences that will live long in your memory.
The Economic Impact of Golf Courses on Local Communities
As we noted earlier, the global golf industry generates tens of billions of dollars annually. But what about the impact of individual golf courses at the local level? Here is a closer look:
“Golf is an important part of many communities’ fabric; it provides open space, recreational opportunities and significant economic impacts.” -Jay Karen
Golf courses can serve as economic engines for the towns and cities where they are located. According to a report by the National Golf Foundation, U.S. golf facilities generate almost $70 billion worth of goods and services each year, supporting nearly two million jobs in fields ranging from turf management to hospitality.
In addition to direct financial contributions, golf courses provide benefits like green space, habitats for wildlife, and improved property values. However, there are also concerns around environmental damage and limited access to public land for recreation.
The value of any given golf course must be weighed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the needs and preferences of the community it serves.
The Impact of Golf Courses on the Environment
Golf has become one of the most popular sports around the world, with an estimated 50 million golfers playing more than 34,000 courses worldwide. However, the development and maintenance of golf courses have numerous negative impacts on the environment.
The Relationship Between Golf Courses and Water Consumption
“The sprawling emerald-green fairways, precise greens, and beautifully landscaped water features are a sight to behold. But they come at a cost – particularly when it comes to water usage.” -EPA’s West Coast Region Water Division Director Tomás Torres
Golf is a highly water-intensive sport that requires large amounts of water for irrigation purposes. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), golf courses typically use up to 1,500,000 gallons of water per day. Moreover, many golf courses are located in areas where water resources are scarce, such as in desert regions. The overuse of water can deplete local aquifers causing severe environmental damage. Therefore, golf courses must find ways to reduce water consumption by minimizing the size of their courses or implementing better irrigation techniques.
The Effect of Golf Course Chemicals on Soil and Wildlife
Golf courses often use chemicals to maintain their landscape and keep pests away. Unfortunately, these chemicals pose significant risks to human health, wildlife, and soil quality. Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides used in golf courses can seep through the soil into ground aquifers, polluting drinking water sources.
In addition, these chemicals harm the biodiversity of plant and animal life within the ecosystem. For example, insecticide and pesticide-laced water can adversely affect fish and other aquatic life residing in nearby water bodies. To mitigate this problem, golf courses can use organic pesticides and other eco-friendly chemicals.
The Role of Golf Courses in Biodiversity Conservation
“Golf courses can play an important role as small pockets of nature where wildlife can thrive.” -The Wildlife Society
Golf courses may not be the first place you think of when it comes to biodiversity conservation. However, they can provide habitat for a range of species such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and plants. Some golf courses have taken steps to maintain established natural habitats by creating undisturbed areas at the edges of the course or keeping wetlands intact. Moreover, some golf courses follow environmentally conscious best practices guidelines under the supervision of knowledgeable environmental professionals.
Efforts to Reduce the Ecological Footprint of Golf Courses
Golf course owners, players, and professionals alike are increasingly aware of the ecological footprint that their sport leaves behind. As a result, many are making efforts to reduce the negative impact on the environment. For example, some golf courses now use advanced technologies like soil sensors, weather systems, low-flow sprinklers, and computerized irrigation control systems to optimize water usage while reducing waste. Additionally, some golfers use electric carts or even walk instead of using motorized carts that contribute to noise pollution.
There is no doubt that golf courses have a significant impact on the environment; however, golf courses also offer opportunities to preserve existing ecosystems and enhance green spaces within urban areas. With informed decisions regarding water use, chemical application, and habitat preservation, both golf courses and environmental goals can coexist sustainably.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many golf courses are there in the world?
As of 2021, there are approximately 38,864 golf courses in the world. The United States has the most golf courses with over 15,000, followed by Japan with over 2,500 and Canada with over 2,250.
Which country has the most golf courses?
The United States has the most golf courses in the world with over 15,000. This is followed by Japan with over 2,500, Canada with over 2,250, and England with over 1,900.
How many golf courses are in the United States?
As of 2021, there are over 15,000 golf courses in the United States. This accounts for approximately 45% of all golf courses in the world. Florida and California have the most golf courses in the United States with over 1,000 each.
How has the number of golf courses changed over time?
The number of golf courses has fluctuated over time. In the early 2000s, there was a boom in golf course construction that led to a peak of over 16,000 courses worldwide. However, since then, there has been a decline in new course construction and closures of older courses, resulting in a decrease in the total number of courses.
What is the average number of holes for a golf course?
The standard number of holes for a golf course is 18. However, there are variations such as 9-hole, 27-hole, and even 36-hole courses. The average number of holes for a golf course is difficult to determine due to the variety of courses available, but 18 is the most common.