How Many Golf Courses Are There In The World? [Answered]

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Golf is a widely popular sport that boasts a significant global presence, as evidenced by the staggering number of golf courses worldwide. With over 38,000 golf courses spread across the globe, it is clear that the sport has a widespread following.

However, the distribution of these courses is far from equal, with the top 20 countries accounting for a staggering 90% of the total supply. The United States stands at the forefront with the highest number of golf courses, closely followed by countries such as the United Kingdom and Japan.

The global landscape of golf courses is a fascinating subject, particularly when examining various aspects such as course density, development, and the distinction between public and private courses. Furthermore, the growth of golf in regions like Asia and Africa, as well as the concept of true links courses, adds an intriguing dimension to the discussion.

This article aims to delve into these statistics and shed light on the expansion of the game on a global scale, providing a comprehensive understanding of the sheer magnitude and intricacies of the world’s golf course landscape.

Number of Golf Courses

There are a substantial number of golf courses worldwide, with the top 20 countries accounting for 90% of the total supply, and the top 10 countries representing 80% of the global courses.

The distribution of golf courses across the globe varies, with some countries having a higher concentration of courses than others. The United States boasts the highest number of golf courses, with one course available every 235 square miles. Other countries with a significant number of courses include the United Kingdom, Japan, and South Korea.

Tourism plays a significant role in the number of golf courses around the world. Many courses are located in popular tourist destinations, attracting golf enthusiasts from different parts of the globe. The economic impact of golf tourism is substantial, as it contributes to local economies through visitor spending on accommodation, transportation, and other related services.

Moreover, golf courses are increasingly incorporating technology in their management practices. This includes the use of advanced irrigation systems, GPS tracking devices, and drone technology for course maintenance and monitoring. These technological advancements improve efficiency, reduce water consumption, and enhance the overall golfing experience.

Additionally, golf course designers and architects are increasingly considering environmental sustainability in their designs. This involves incorporating eco-friendly practices such as using native plants, implementing water-saving measures, and adopting organic turf management practices. The aim is to reduce the environmental impact of golf courses and promote biodiversity conservation.

Furthermore, golf courses contribute to social and community well-being by providing recreational spaces and fostering a sense of community. Accessible and inclusive golf courses ensure that individuals of all abilities can enjoy the sport, promoting inclusivity and diversity.

Overall, golf courses offer not only a venue for sports and leisure but also contribute to the economy, environment, and social fabric of communities worldwide.

Top Countries

Asia and the Middle East experienced a significant surge in the development of golf facilities in 2020. These regions have been actively expanding their golf course supply, contributing to the overall global courses available.

Among the top countries driving this growth, Japan and South Korea stand out with their large share of Asia’s golf courses. Japan, in particular, boasts an impressive number of 3,140 golf courses, with 2,202 of them being golf facilities. This not only highlights the popularity of golf in Japan but also emphasizes its status as a key player in the golf industry.

When it comes to course density, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales are notable contenders. England, in particular, has the highest number of courses per square miles of landmass, showcasing its commitment to providing ample golfing opportunities.

Additionally, it is worth noting that 48 countries have only one golf course, while 19 countries have at least 300 golf courses. This demonstrates the varying degrees of golf course availability across different nations.

Furthermore, the growth of golf courses is not limited to specific regions. Africa, for instance, has seen a significant increase in golf course development, with South Africa leading the way by hosting 51% of the continent’s courses. Similarly, Asia and the Middle East witnessed a notable rise in golf course development in 2020, reaffirming the global nature of the sport.

Overall, these trends highlight the continuous growth of golf, as new courses are developed each year to meet the increasing demand for this popular recreational activity.

Course Density

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales have emerged as prominent contenders in terms of course density, with England boasting the highest number of golf courses per square miles of landmass, highlighting their commitment to providing ample opportunities for golfers.

The course distribution in these countries reflects a high level of golf course saturation, indicating a strong demand for the sport and a well-established golfing culture.

The accessibility of golf courses in these regions is also noteworthy, as golfers have a wide range of options to choose from within a relatively small area.

This high course density has led to a competitive environment among golf courses, with each facility striving to attract golfers and maintain its popularity.

The management of golf courses in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales plays a crucial role in sustaining the golfing industry.

Golf course economics is a key consideration, as the management must balance the financial viability of the courses while ensuring they remain accessible to a diverse range of golfers.

Demographics also play a role, as the management must cater to the preferences and needs of different age groups, skill levels, and backgrounds.

Additionally, golf course regulations are in place to maintain the quality and sustainability of the courses, ensuring they adhere to environmental standards and provide a safe and enjoyable experience for golfers.

Overall, the course density in these countries reflects their commitment to the sport, with a focus on providing a competitive, accessible, and sustainable golfing experience for enthusiasts.

Course Development

Course development has become a global trend, with countries worldwide recognizing the increasing popularity of golf and investing in the creation of new golf facilities. Emerging markets, such as Asia and Africa, have seen significant growth in golf course development. Japan and South Korea have the largest share of Asia’s golf courses, while 51% of golf courses in Africa are located in South Africa. The Middle East has also experienced a rise in golf course development. In 2020, there were 365 new golf courses under development outside of North America, indicating the continued growth of the sport.

When it comes to course development, there are several factors to consider, including the environmental impact, funding sources, sustainability practices, golf course architecture, technology, golf tourism, and golf course management. Countries are increasingly focusing on sustainable practices in course development to minimize the environmental impact. This includes using eco-friendly materials, implementing water conservation measures, and preserving natural habitats. Additionally, funding sources play a crucial role in the development of golf courses, with both public and private investments being utilized.

Golf course architecture and design trends also play a significant role in course development. Architects are incorporating innovative designs that challenge traditional layouts and provide unique playing experiences. Technology is also being integrated into course development, with the use of advanced irrigation systems, GPS tracking, and virtual reality simulations. Furthermore, golf tourism has become a driving force in course development, with countries leveraging their golf courses to attract visitors and boost their economies.

However, there are challenges in course development that need to be addressed. These include land availability, environmental regulations, and community acceptance. Finding suitable land for golf course development can be a challenge, especially in densely populated areas. Environmental regulations ensure that course development is done sustainably, but they can also pose obstacles. Additionally, gaining community acceptance is crucial, as some communities may have concerns about the impact of golf courses on their surroundings.

Course development is a global trend driven by the increasing popularity of golf. Emerging markets, such as Asia and Africa, have seen significant growth in golf course development, while countries worldwide are focusing on sustainability practices and incorporating technology into course design. Funding sources, golf tourism, and community acceptance are also important factors in course development. Despite challenges, the continuous growth of golf and the development of new courses indicate a promising future for the sport.

Public vs Private

Public and private golf courses have distinct characteristics and management approaches, highlighting the diverse options available for golfers worldwide. Public golf courses are open to the general public and often offer more accessibility options compared to private courses. They typically have lower membership fees or may not require membership at all, allowing golfers to play on a pay-per-play basis. Public courses often prioritize maintaining affordable playing opportunities for all, making them appealing to a wide range of golfers. Course maintenance on public courses is generally funded through user fees and public funding, ensuring that the course is well-maintained for all players.

In contrast, private golf courses are exclusive and typically require membership for access. They often have higher membership fees, targeting a specific demographic of golfers. Private courses may offer more luxurious amenities and services, including high-quality dining options, fitness facilities, and swimming pools. Membership at private courses often includes additional benefits such as priority tee times and access to exclusive events. Private courses also tend to have stricter guest policies, requiring members to accompany guests or limit the number of guests allowed. Course design at private courses may be focused on providing a challenging and exclusive experience, with well-manicured fairways, pristine greens, and top-notch facilities.

Additionally, private courses often prioritize maintaining a certain level of exclusivity and prestige, which can be reflected in their golf course rankings and reputation. Environmental impact is a consideration for both public and private golf courses, with many courses implementing sustainable practices to minimize their ecological footprint and protect the surrounding environment. Overall, the choice between public and private golf courses depends on individual preferences and priorities, with each offering unique experiences and opportunities for golfers.

Growth in Asia and Africa

In recent years, there has been significant growth in the number of golf courses in Asia and Africa. This expansion has had a notable economic impact on these regions, particularly in terms of golf tourism.

Countries such as Japan and South Korea have witnessed a surge in golf course development, attracting both domestic and international players. The increase in golf courses has also led to a boost in related industries, such as golf course design, maintenance, and technology. Golf course management has become a crucial aspect of ensuring the sustainability and profitability of these establishments.

Additionally, golf course membership and events have become popular, contributing to the overall economic viability of the sport in these regions.

  1. Economic impact: The growth in golf courses in Asia and Africa has had a positive economic impact on these regions, attracting tourists and generating revenue.
  2. Golf tourism: The increase in golf courses has led to a rise in golf tourism, with players from around the world visiting these destinations for golfing vacations.
  3. Golf course design: The expansion of golf courses has created opportunities for golf course designers to showcase their expertise and create unique and challenging playing experiences.
  4. Golf course maintenance: With the increase in golf courses, the demand for proper maintenance and upkeep of these facilities has grown, creating jobs and investment opportunities in this sector.

The growth of golf courses in Asia and Africa signifies the increasing popularity and global reach of the sport. It not only provides economic benefits but also promotes tourism and creates employment opportunities. As the number of golf courses continues to rise, it is essential to focus on sustainable practices and effective management to ensure the long-term success and profitability of these establishments.

Links Courses

The prevalence of true links courses is concentrated in the UK and Ireland, with a limited number found in the US, highlighting the distinctive nature of these traditional golfing landscapes. Links courses hold a significant historical significance as they trace their origins back to the birthplace of golf.

These courses are typically located along the coastlines, characterized by sandy soil, dunes, and undulating terrain. The natural elements play a crucial role in the design and playability of links courses, providing unique challenges and an authentic golfing experience.

Some of the most famous links courses include St. Andrews Old Course in Scotland, Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, and Royal Birkdale in England. These historic courses have hosted prestigious golf tournaments and have become iconic landmarks in the golfing world.

Playing on links courses presents its own set of challenges. The unpredictable coastal winds, firm fairways, and thick rough can test even the most skilled golfers. The maintenance and upkeep of links courses are also unique. The sandy soil requires specific grass types and careful irrigation to ensure optimal conditions for play. The natural dunes need to be preserved and protected, as they are an essential part of the course’s design and aesthetics.

The impact of weather on links courses is significant. The ever-changing weather conditions, including rain, fog, and strong winds, can drastically alter the playing experience and strategy. Golfers must adapt their game and make quick decisions based on the weather forecast and the current conditions.

The architectural design of links courses takes into account the natural features of the land, such as the dunes and the coastline. The strategic placement of bunkers, fairways, and greens adds to the challenge and creates a visually stunning course layout. As a result, link courses often attract golf enthusiasts from around the world, becoming popular tourist attractions.

Links courses also play a vital role in professional golf tournaments. Major championships like The Open Championship are often held on iconic links courses, showcasing the rich history and tradition of the game. These tournaments attract top players from around the world and provide a platform to test their skills on these challenging courses.

The future of links courses in the golf industry remains promising. While the number of true links courses may be limited, their unique appeal and connection to traditional golfing regions ensure their continued prominence in the golfing world. As the sport continues to grow, link courses will remain an integral part of golf’s heritage and an essential destination for golfers seeking an authentic golfing experience.

Expansion of the Game

The global expansion of golf has led to the development of new and diverse golf courses in various regions, contributing to the growth and accessibility of the game.

  • Economic Impact: The expansion of golf has had a significant economic impact in many countries. The development of new golf courses has created job opportunities in the construction, maintenance, and management of the courses. Additionally, golf tourism has become a major source of revenue for many regions. Golf enthusiasts from around the world travel to different countries to play on renowned courses, contributing to the local economy through spending on accommodation, dining, and other recreational activities.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Golf courses have become more environmentally sustainable in recent years. Many courses have implemented water conservation measures, such as using recycled water for irrigation and installing efficient irrigation systems. Furthermore, golf courses are increasingly adopting organic and eco-friendly practices for pest control and fertilization. These efforts not only minimize the environmental impact of golf courses but also promote biodiversity and the conservation of natural resources.
  • Golf Course Architecture: The expansion of the game has led to the development of innovative and visually stunning golf course designs. Golf course architects are now incorporating natural landscapes, such as hills, valleys, and water bodies, into their designs, creating a more challenging and aesthetically pleasing playing experience. Additionally, architects are focusing on creating courses that are enjoyable for players of all skill levels, with the inclusion of multiple tee boxes and strategic bunkering.
  • Golf Course Technology: Advances in technology have also played a significant role in the expansion of golf. Many golf courses now use GPS-enabled carts, allowing players to navigate the course more efficiently. Additionally, digital scoring systems and online tee time reservations have made the game more accessible and convenient for players. Furthermore, golf course management software helps streamline operations and improve overall efficiency in maintaining and managing the courses.


In conclusion, the global golf course landscape is a testament to the widespread popularity of the sport. With over 38,000 golf courses worldwide, it is clear that golf has a significant presence in many countries.

The top 20 countries account for 90% of the total supply, with the United States leading the pack with the highest number of golf courses. This highlights the strong interest and investment in golf infrastructure in these countries.

Moreover, the distribution of golf courses is not evenly spread, with some countries boasting a higher density of courses than others. This reflects the varying levels of interest and accessibility to the sport in different regions. Additionally, the growth of golf in Asia and Africa is a promising trend, as it indicates the increasing popularity and development of the sport in these regions.

Furthermore, the concept of true links courses is an intriguing aspect of the global golf course landscape. These courses, characterized by their coastal locations and natural terrain, provide a unique and challenging golfing experience. The expansion of the game, along with the development of golf courses in various countries, ensures that golf enthusiasts have a wide range of options to enjoy their favorite sport.

Overall, the global golf course landscape is a dynamic and evolving one, with the number of courses constantly growing and developing around the world. The sport’s popularity is evident in the significant investment and interest it garners in many countries, as well as the emergence of new golfing destinations in Asia and Africa. With such a diverse range of courses and opportunities, golf enthusiasts can continue to pursue their passion for the game in various corners of the globe.

How is golf course development shaping the global golfing industry and local economies?

In summary, golf has a significant global presence with over 38,000 courses worldwide. The United States, United Kingdom, and Japan have the highest number of golf courses, while England has the highest course density per square mile. Golf course development is experiencing growth in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, with South Africa leading the way. These courses contribute to local economies through visitor spending and provide recreational spaces for communities. Technology and environmental sustainability practices are being incorporated into course management and development. Funding sources, architecture, and golf tourism play important roles in driving course development, but challenges include land availability, environmental regulations, and community acceptance.