PGA professionals growing golf participation world-wide

By Dominic Sainsbury
New Zealand PGA General Manager

It is a well know fact that golf club memberships have been in a decline for more than 10 years now in New Zealand.

With most clubs in New Zealand dependent on membership subscriptions to maintain financial sustainability, we need to address the issue and buck the trend.

How do we grow participation? Here are some thoughts.

Role models.

We are very lucky that our sport has so many great PGA Tour players across the women’s and men’s games and at all ages (the seniors/champions tour). We only have to look at the success of our major championships — not just the showcasing of golfing talent but also the attendance of avid golf fans.

For example, the US Masters tournament is sold out every year and this year’s Open Championship was sold out within weeks of the tickets coming on sale.

We also have great role models as club professionals throughout New Zealand. A number of these professionals were tour players and are now giving back to growing the game at their club and in their region

Give golfers what they want.

The PGA Tours, PGA associations, the Royal & Ancient and the United States Golf Association are all working together with a focus on scheduling major events and tournaments for better engagement with the golfing public and to keep golf at the height of the media’s attention for sustained periods of time.

We are also working on a number of golf initiatives and programmes to capitalise on the increased media attention and wonderful PGA Tour players.

The She Loves Golf and Love Golf promotions in New Zealand have been brilliant for exposing our game to new players with a number of PGA professionals rolling out these programmes across the country and gaining new members and participants from embracing the relaxed rules and fun innovative formats of play.

We need to continue roll out events and programmes that give new and traditional golfers what they want.

The PGA professional is committed to embracing innovation and offering not just the traditional stableford, net and gross competition but fun team competitions based on the ambrose, foresomes, two ball better ball, teams’ challenges (captains versus presidents) and many more great ways to play.

We have a number of clubs that are embracing new events and competitions with great success and the New Zealand PGA domestic pro-am circuit is testament to this. An emphasis on fun and social connection keeps us coming back for more.

Golf fact.

The average club hit into a par four on the US PGA Tour is a nine iron. As the US PGA Tour makes courses longer the players simply get stronger and improve their technique. Courses on the tours are getting longer yet the tour players are hitting shorter clubs into the green.

This is an area where we have a disconnect at our clubs as the average club golfer is hitting a six iron for their second shot into a par four. Two ways to address this is for the club golfer to learn from the tour player and hit the ball further (by improving technique, getting stronger and by having correctly fitted equipment) or play the course from forward tees. If you do both you might just find that golf becomes a lot more fun.

Prize time.

The PGA professional is committed to growing participation and we would love your feedback on what you would like to see more of at your club or what the best day on the golf course over the past year was. Email your feedback to with all entries going in the draw for a PGA goodie bag. To find your nearest PGA professional head to