State of the game
But perhaps the biggest question, as golf clubs seek clarity and closure, centres on participation, the key component when evaluating the prospects of the country’s first-ranked organised sport.
Ahead of football football, netball netball, cricket and touch rugby, 2013/14 Active New Zealand Survey findings report that approximately 9.6 per cent of the population are regular chasers of the little white ball.
At present, 36 of the 39 golf facilities surveyed during the Golf Facilities Plan, showed that Auckland supplies a total of 3,753,131 rounds in a year, assuming the ideal scenario of one tee-off by a group of four every eight minutes, with around 869,898 actually played.
Of the rounds played at Auckland clubs, 75 per cent are members at their home clubs, 14 per cent are members at affiliated clubs and 11 per cent are casual players.
Yet worryingly, golf in New Zealand is currently at a major crossroads, teetering between the national pride about Lydia Ko, aged 18, becoming the youngest player to win a major championship, and wilting obscurity.
On the global professional stage, the game is in young hands, with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day aged 22, 26 and 27, respectively, yet on Kiwi shores golf is in danger of losing the millennial generation.
“Golf currently has low levels of uptake by young people so we need to work with the sector to increase the attractiveness of the sport to this demographic group,” Marriott-Lloyd says.
“This is critical to the long-term vitality of golf. Council will work alongside the sector, with a particular focus on leaseholders, to ensure that they are able to effectively respond to the changing nature of participation.”
In outlining New Zealand Golf’s take on the dwindling numbers of golfers in the city, Murphy advises that while golf has the highest adult participation rates of any organised sport in Auckland, the sport is “experiencing changes in how people choose to participate”.
Indeed, it could be argued the sport is remiss in not offering accessible experiences that meet the needs of young people and as a result the sport in Auckland is in oversupply.
In housing 39 clubs, Auckland has one of the lowest populations per golf course at 38,659 per capita, compared to Melbourne with (56,339), Sydney (50,850) and Vancouver (56,276).
By 2031, it is widely predicted that 38 per cent (1,968,100) of the projected 5,194,600 residents in New Zealand will live in the Auckland region, meaning the number will rise to 50,464, potentially causing the city to be ‘under-golfed’.
“Currently, the status of golf in Auckland could suggest that there are too many courses in the city, but this is open to debate and as the population grows it could swing back into the favour of golf courses,” White says.
“Demand for golf, as with all sports, changes frequently. It ebbs and flows and whether it be golf, rugby or football, demand can peak and then fall off again.
“In the future, the demand for golf and memberships only needs to increase by ten to fifteen per cent to ensure that the current volume of courses we have at present would be bang on.”
Clarks Beach GC
Omaha Beach GC
Great Barrier Island GC
Awhitu Regional Park GC
Chamberlain Park Number of golf courses: 39 Number of publicly owned courses: 13 Number of links courses: 2 (Muriwai and Omaha) Number of parkland courses: 37 Rounds supplied per year (36 out of 39 courses surveyed): 3,753,131 Rounds played per year (36 out of 39 courses surveyed): 869,868 Rounds played at Auckland clubs: Average price per round: $31.67 Average revenue generated per 18-hole round: $58.94 Average cost per 18-hole round: $54.94 Net revenue per round: $4.00 Auckland: 39 courses = 38,659 (per course) Zurich: 7 courses = 271,429 (per course) Melbourne: 74 courses = 56,339 (per course) Vancouver: 44 courses = 56,276 (per course) Sydney: 91 courses = 50,850 (per course)