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The iron age: golf a retirement bonus for Aussie men

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, July 2014 – June 2015, n=6,759 Australian men aged 14+.

One in 20 Australian men 14+ (5.4%) play golf regularly, and another 1 in 10 (9.8%) enjoy the occasional game, Roy Morgan Research sports participation data for the year to June 2015 shows. And while it’s often considered an older man’s pursuit, this might just be because so many are waiting patiently until retirement to really get into the swing of it.

Almost one in five men aged 35-44 play golf at all (19%) – 14% play occasionally, while only around 5% play regularly (whether that’s their choice or not).

Over the next two decades regular participation becomes more common, climbing 2% points, but most golfers are still limited to the occasional round.

Then, at age 65-74, regular participation rises again to a peak of one in ten Aussie men, surpassing the rate of occasional play. Into their golden years, the proportion of men golfing regularly declines only slightly after age 75. 

There’s a clear correlation with the rise in regular golfing: retirement. By around age 65, most men have waved bye-bye to work; perhaps, after 40 years of irregular weekend nine-hole rounds, many occasional golfers finally upgrade to more regular participation. So perhaps golf isn’t an older man’s sport as much as it is a free man’s.

Proportion of men across age groups who play golf regularly or occasionally

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, July 2014 – June 2015, n=6,759 Australian men aged 14+.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Excluding walking for exercise, golf is the most common sport or activity regularly played by men aged 65 and over, ahead of fishing, gym or weights training, swimming and cycling.

“However among these pursuits, golf is the only one that actually gets an uptick in regular participation after retirement age. Other sports to get this ‘retirement bonus’ among men include tennis and lawn bowls.

“Golf also picks up popularity among women after age 65, but the sport remains way down their list in terms of regular participation, behind yoga, dancing, aerobics and hiking.” 

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%