Diversifying Golf: An Exploration into the Current Average Golfer

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type




First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velázquez


Sports have played a major role in shaping our culture and society for ages. Sports not only provide an economic benefit, but they also offer intrapersonal and health benefits. Sports can transcend language and territorial barriers. However, sports participation is still a subject that few studies have focused on. This is especially true when we look at golf. Few researchers have investigated the participation in golf compared to other major sports. Prior researchers have found that general sports participation falls into categories: cultural omnivorism, which is that all participants come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and the opposite of this, cultural univorism, which consists of constraints acting as barriers to participants of lower classes participation. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, while other sports have had a decline in participation, golf seems to have sprung a new base of participants which has boomed the industry. Nevertheless, the boom has still left the sport of golf very unintegrated. This paper seeks to assess the factors that lead golf to still be a privileged sport, and how to increase the accessibility of golf to people who might be interested in participating. To this end, this paper employs an analysis of current golfers within Los Angeles County through an in-person survey to compare variables of gender, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and structural constraints that lead to sport participation. LA county was chosen as there are over 50 public golf courses within its boundaries and there are diverse cultures and peoples who live there. The results from the data collection indicate that, true to prior research, cultural univorism best fits golf participants. Golf is still a high-class sport, requiring a high socioeconomic status to participate. The high costs and seemingly exclusive rules within golf for a leisure activity continue to lead the sport as inaccessible, creating a lack of diversity in its participants. More resources and attention need to be brought to key non-profit organizations such as the First Tee Program and the APGA. Both non-profits work to develop and help minority players in golf. A more dramatic call to change would be at the level of executives of the PGA, the organization that manages golf. Of the 31 officers and executives within the PGA of America, only individual is a person of color. A more diverse leadership within the organization will allow more discussion and actions to help minority golfers. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to make golf accessible to people who are interested in golf.

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