Throughout the years, golf has grown increasingly popular throughout Australasia, with the region being responsible for creating some of the sport’s most successful players. In turn, both Australia and New Zealand have seen their golfing markets rise in modern-day society. So, with that in mind, how does the course-based sport compare between the two major Australasian countries?
What Are the Differences in Course Availability?
Despite both having iconic figures capable of influencing participation, there’s a significant difference between the volume of courses for residents in both Australia and New Zealand. At the time of writing, Australia has over 1,500 courses to choose from. Because of that, digital developments, such as Golf Select, have been created to assist players in determining where to play. In turn, accessibility is playing a central role in the ever-growing popularity of Australia’s golfing sector.
However, golf’s progression in Australia hasn’t been without its stumbling blocks. While an article by Golf Industry Central, which references the 2018 National Golf Club Participation Report of 2018, states that membership numbers were down from the previous year, there remains a belief that the sport remains vital to regional communities. Despite the reported decline, it’s still believed that golf is the country’s number one participant sport, with more than 460,000 Australians belonging to a club.
Moreover, when you compare the size of Australia’s golfing scene with New Zealand’s, the sport’s popularity within the world’s sixth-largest country becomes even more apparent. In total, there are considerably fewer courses throughout New Zealand, with the country’s governing body reporting that there are 397 courses available throughout New Zealand, over 1,100 less than Australia.
That said, only Scotland boasts a higher course per capita rate than the sovereign island country. Furthermore, because of that growth, the sport has become more popular with online operators that provide sportsbook opportunities. LeoVegas, for example, is one of many contemporary platforms that offer online sports betting, with free bets in NZ being made available to new players across numerous different sports, including golf.
Both Have Figures Capable of Inspiring the Next Generation
In relation to past success, both Australasian countries have, in years gone by, created some of the golfing world’s most iconic players. Fundamentally, the achievements of such players on the professional stage is a primary reason as to why the sport has grown to reach new heights throughout both Australia and New Zealand.
For example, Peter Thomson is seen as being one of the central figures behind the rising popularity of golf in Australia since the middle of the 19th century, despite failing to win any of the sport’s major American majors. Following his sad passing in June 2018, Thomson continues to be held in high regard among golfing fans, with his five Open victories being bettered only by Harry Vardon. Primarily, the appeal of the Brunswick-born golfer related to his on-course simplicity, a unique playing style that enabled him to raise the sport's profile in Australia.
Furthermore, because of the successes of Sir Bob Charles, the now 84-year-old was able to put New Zealand’s golfing capabilities on the map during his peak years. Regarding the contemporary outlook of the sport, many believe that Charles was responsible for showcasing that left-handed players weren’t at a disadvantage compared to their right-handed counterparts, as he became the first left-hander to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, as per Golf Digest.
Additionally, in recent times, the Carterton-born golfer, who is joint fourth for the most PGA Tour Champions wins, five ahead of Australia’s Bruce Crampton, was elected as a patron with New Zealand golf, showcasing his contributions to the country’s contemporary golfing scene.
Despite Differences, There's a Shared Love of Golf
Ultimately, despite clubs in both Australia and New Zealand facing diminishing membership numbers throughout the last few years, the foundations are in place for each of their golfing markets to reach new heights in the near future. From a historical standpoint, few can argue against the effect that both countries have had on the contemporary nature of the sport. Crucially, going forward, digital developments will prove central in enhancing course participation variation and sports betting opportunities, which will likely generate a heightened golfing appeal throughout the region.