Report: Social Clubs and SGA lead Australian Golf Boom in 2022

Golf Australia Participation Report 2022

Report: Social clubs, SGA lead 2022 Australian Golf Boom

Golf Australia Participation Report 2022

Golf Australia’s 2021/22 Participation Report has revealed that more than 2.7 million Australians play golf, with each state and territory experiencing another year of significant club membership growth.

For the first time, Golf Australia has worked with the National Golf Foundation to outline participation across all forms of golf.

The data reveals that over the 12 months, Australia’s golf courses hosted 1.5 million golfers, while a further 1.2 million played off-course at a range of spaces, including driving ranges, mini-golf facilities and simulators.

Club memberships across the country grew by 2.7% in 2021/22 following a record 6.4% growth in the previous 12 months, highlighted by a rise in the number of women golfers and junior golfers.

Social Golf key to growth

Among the findings in the report: "Consistent with the past five years, growth was again seen in Social club members, increasing by 8.9% over the year. Social club members now account for 7.0% of total members across Australia."

The report also named Social Golf Australia as one of the key factors in the Australian Golf Boom, notably in South Australia, where SGA is affiliated for the management of Golf Handicaps.

It’s the second largest golf membership increase since data collection began in 1970.

Golf Australia’s Get into Golf program for adults grew by 65% with an 84% jump in female participation, while there was 13% growth in MyGolf for five to 12-year-olds which featured a 25% increase in female participation.

The growth is supported by Australian Sports Commission’s AusPlay data, with the 2021/22 results revealing a 33% increase in people identifying as golfers on pre-COVID levels.

2022 Golf Participation Report

Golf is getting bigger

James Sutherland, Golf Australia CEO, said the positive figures continued the momentum created by the launch of the Australian Golf Strategy which focuses on making the game more inclusive and accessible to Australians from all walks of life.

“Golf is big - and it’s getting bigger,” he said.

“We’re delighted to see golf in Australia is growing at a rate never seen before and consolidating its position as one of the country’s highest participation sports.

“With more people playing the game than ever before, this Participation Report highlights the community’s passion for the game – and the way long-term investments into our grassroots programs have helped to turn social players into club members.

“Across every meaningful metric, golf is thriving and we’re particularly buoyed by the growth in women’s golf and junior golf.

“There’s always more to do, but we are well on our way to making our great game even bigger and more inclusive.”

This year’s participation measurement was adapted to align more closely with the Australian golf industry’s philosophy that “all golf is golf”.

“Whether you’re a social golfer, long-time member, weekly comp player, putt-putt specialist, driving range regular or simulator lover – you contribute to our golfing community and the health of our game,” said Sutherland.

Key figures – July 1 2021 – June 30 2022

Total participation: 2.7 million (800,000 just on course, 700,000 both on and off course, and 1.2 million just off course).
Club membership: 426,384 (up 2.7%, 11,208 new members)
Junior members: 16,241 (up 4.2%)
Women and girl members: 79,704 (up 4.0%)
State by state club membership growth: NSW (0.6%), Victoria (2.6%), Queensland (3.9%), South Australia (4.6%), Western Australia (1.7%), Tasmania (7.2%), Northern Territory (9.9%).
Participation programs: Get Into Golf up 65%, My Golf up 13%, Community Instructor Accreditations up 30%, Disability Inclusion Program up 90%,

For more information and statistics, read the full Participation Report here.

(Story by Australian Golf Media)

Golf Club Affiliation Fees to rise in 2023

Affiliation Rises

Golf Club Affiliation Fees to rise in 2023

Chart - Rise in Golf Club Affiliation Fees
Percentage increase in Handicap Affiliation fees vs SGA Standard Handicap Price (since 2016)

SGA received an unwelcome Christmas Stocking Stuffer in December, with a message that, in 2023, Golf Club Affiliation Fees are increasing.  Again.

Not quite the holiday present we were hoping to find.

By our reckoning, Golf Club affiliation fees have risen every year (except one) in the last seven years.  This represents a total increase of 49% in that period. (Just a scooch more than inflation, we reckon.)

Conversely, over that same period, SGA has increased the Standard Handicap price from $95 to $98 – just a 3.2% increase.

So "Just what are affiliation fees?", you may be asking.

Essentially, they are the annual fees that golf clubs (public, private and social clubs/handicap providers like SGA) pay to golf's governing bodies for each registered member with a handicap. These fees go towards things like Public Liability Insurance, maintaining GolfLink, growing the game, state and national administration costs, running amateur events, etc.

We've been fortunate to have grown so much each year that we've been able to offset these increased costs; and thus resist increasing our retail price, despite our margins being dramatically reduced each year.

However, our increased size (now over 6000 members!) has required investment in new technology and a bigger team, so the price increases over the last two years have really squeezed our margins. This has, unfortunately, tipped us to the point where we need to increase the handicap price in 2023.

We are currently figuring out how to manage it. The likely change will be a $10 increase in the Standard Handicap in the first half of the year. (Later in the year, the Unlimited Handicap Tier may also increase).

Our sincere apologies to our members for any inconvenience this may cause. And we hope you understand.

We will keep you informed via emails, on Social Media and via this website as we finalise the plan and the process for how we manage it.

Until then, we hope you hit ‘em straight in 2023!


Matthew Pitt

Managing Director
Social Golf Australia

How the 2023 Golf Rules changes affect your game

2023 Rules Changes

How the 2023 Golf Rules Changes affect your game

The R&A and USGA announce an update to the Rules of Golf, which will come into effect on 1 January 2023.

The new rule updates are part of the R&A's regular four-year review process of modernisation. In 2023, they will include relaxed penalties in certain situations, and modified language to make the rules clearer to understand. Also, they will feature modified Rules for players with disabilities.

2023 Rules of Golf Infographic

Key 2023 Golf Rules changes include:

  • Modifications for Players with Disabilities: The modifications to the Rules for players with disabilities are in effect for all players who fall under the categories covered in Rule 25.
  • Handicap Usage in Stroke Play: Players are no longer required to show their handicap on their scorecard in stroke play. The Committee will be responsible for calculating the player’s handicap strokes. They will use that to calculate the player’s net score.
  • Club Damaged During Round: The Rule now allows a player to replace a club that is damaged during a round. This is provided that the player did not damage it through abuse.
  • The "Rickie Fowler Rule": Ball Moved by Natural Forces: A new Exception provides that a ball at rest must be replaced if it moves to another area of the course or comes to rest out of bounds after being dropped, placed or replaced.

    This is casually referred to as the Rickie Fowler rule, following an incident in 2019. At the WM Phoenix Open, Fowler's chip on the 11th ran through the green and into the water. Fowler took a penalty drop onto a steep bank (placing it after two initial efforts rolled into the water). As he walked up to the green to plan his next shot, his ball rolled down the bank and back into the water. He took penalty relief again and went on to record a triple bogey. This new "exception" helps to alleviate this type of bad luck.

  • Simplified Back-on-the-Line Relief

    This relief procedure, often used for penalty area and unplayable ball relief, is now simplified. The ball is now dropped on the line, and may roll up to one club-length in any direction. EVEN IF IT ROLLS CLOSER TO THE HOLE. (Previously, a drop could be taken anywhere within one club length, but if the ball rolled forward, it would have to be re-dropped.) Now, a re-drop is not required. This change represents a return to the easy-to-apply, pre-2019 process.

Video: Penalty Area Relief

Video: Unplayable Ball

2023 Golf Rules Back on Line

Hard Copy Rulebooks to be discontinued

Hard copies of the rules will no longer be distributed to club members. In future, access to the Rules will be via R&A-approved websites and apps. Golf Australia is currently working with the R&A to upgrade the GA Handicap App to include 2023 R&A Rules content. The work on the GA Handicap App is projected to be completed in February 2023.

Until then, to access to the 2023 Rules, golfers are encouraged to use the new R&A Rules of Golf app:

Golf Rules Resources

Australian Golf, BMW Australia sign partnership agreement


Australian Golf and BMW Australia Sign Historic Partnership Agreement


Golf Australia, the PGA of Australia and the WPGA Tour of Australasia have signed BMW Australia in a multi-year deal as the first joint major partner of Australian Golf.

As part of the commitments outlined in the Australian Golf Strategy, the bodies are working together more closely than ever before to collaborate and enable year-round partnerships in golf across Brand, Digital, Tournaments, Broadcast and Community Programs.

The multi-year deal with BMW is the first partnership to span the breadth of the Australian Golf ecosystem and will see BMW become the official car partner of the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, WPGA Tour of Australasia, Fortinet Australian PGA Championship, ISPS HANDA Australian Open, WPGA Championship and several Webex Players Series & State Open Tournaments.  BMW will also have access to a range of year-round benefits across Australian Golf including digital, broadcast and brand alignment.

WPGA Tour of Australasia CEO Karen Lunn emphasised the importance of the partnership for sending a strong message both in Australia and across the globe.

“The partnership between Australian Golf and BMW Australia sends a strong message across not just in Australia but all over the world. As a collective, Australian Golf is taking innovative and bold steps forward and gathering support from like-minded organisations such as BMW Australia is a significant endorsement of our approach to changing perceptions and growing the game for everyone,” said Lunn.

PGA of Australia CEO Gavin Kirkman emphasised this sentiment and said the partnership was reflective of shared values.

“By working together under the banner of Australian Golf we are able to harness the enormous potential of our sport and align with a partner such as BMW Australia across our tour and organisations. Together, with the support of our partners like BMW Australia, we’re building an exciting and sustainable future for our game for everyone, from those who play to those of us who work in the industry whether they be volunteers, PGA professionals, club managers or staff,” said Kirkman.

Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland highlighted the significance of the partnership and its alignment to the Australian Golf Strategy.

“The partnership between our three organisations under the banner of Australian Golf and BMW Australia is a history making moment for our sport,” said Sutherland.

“The Australian Golf Strategy clearly outlines our collective intention to work together to create a robust and sustainable future for golf in Australia. The strong sense of direction provided by the strategy opened to door to realising a partnership like the one we are announcing today.”

Wolfgang Buechel, CEO of BMW Group Australia, said the new partnership marked a significant step in the company’s commitment to golf both in Australia and on a global level.
“I am delighted that with this new partnership we can add Australia as a headline act in our global golf partnership portfolio alongside our activities in Europe, the USA and Asia,” Mr Buechel said.

“Working with trusted partners in Golf Australia, the PGA of Australia and the WPGA Tour of Australasia will see us create opportunities for players of all levels – from those who enjoy a casual round on the weekend to those who compete at the highest level – while also supporting the many people who work in the industry.”

Presidents Cup to return to Melbourne in 2028 and 2040

The Presidents Cup

Presidents Cup to return to Melbourne in 2028 and 2040

The Presidents Cup
The Presidents Cup (Photo by Con Chronis/Getty Images for Visit Victoria)

The PGA TOUR has announced a long-term commitment to staging the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Victoria, with the biennial global team competition set to return to the iconic Sandbelt in 2028 and 2040. The 2028 Presidents Cup will mark the event’s fourth visit to Melbourne, matching Gainesville (Virginia, USA) for most Cups contested in one city. 

The venue for the 2028 Presidents Cup will be announced at a later date. The Presidents Cup was staged at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in its three previous trips to Melbourne (1998, 2011, 2019), with the International Team defeating the U.S. Team in 1998 under the leadership of the late Peter Thomson, while the U.S. Team claimed the Cup in 2011 and 2019.

“Since the Presidents Cup was first staged in Melbourne in 1998, Australia and its passionate fanbase have played a leading role in the growth of the Presidents Cup,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “As the event continues to visit new corners of the globe, we remain committed to a presence in Melbourne and the Sandbelt region, a place our players and fans around the world hold in high regard. Our partnership with State of Victoria and Visit Victoria has been a winning combination, and we’re thrilled with the support we’ve received from Premier Andrews in securing the 2028 and 2040 dates.” 

Australia was the Presidents Cup’s first international destination, and has since visited South Africa (2003), Canada (2007) and Korea (2015) in addition to twice returning to Australia. 


“Securing two more Presidents Cups is a real coup for Melbourne, promoting our city to the world and providing a boost for tourism and jobs,” said Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Martin Pakula. 

The Presidents Cup was last played in 2019 at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club, which saw the U.S. Team mount a thrilling comeback on the final day to claim victory over a renewed International Team in Australia. The event will return in 2022 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 20-25, following a one-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re delighted that the Presidents Cup will be back in 2028 and 2040, cementing Melbourne’s position as a global events destination and the major events capital of Australia,” said Visit Victoria CEO Brendan McClements. 

At the 2019 event, the PGA TOUR and First Tee announced the creation of the First Tee Australia, which marked the sixth international location for the youth development program. The chapter is managed by PGA of Australia and engages with five local community groups to reach underserved teenagers. As of November 2021, First Tee Australia services approximately 1,100 students at four locations in Melbourne and Tasmania with plans to expand throughout the country in the future. 

For more information about the Presidents Cup, please visit

Bucket-List trip: Play the same iconic Sandbelt courses that host the top Pros

The SGA Sandbelt Classic (exclusive to SGA) is our "bucket-list" golf experience, where you can tee it up on the same courses that have hosted the world's top professionals and most iconic events.

Sorry, we couldn't find any posts. Please try a different search.