The Iron Age: Golf a Retirement Bonus for Aussie Men


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.

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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