Golfing over gaming: young Aucklanders taking to the greens

April 26, 2023

Golfing over gaming: young Aucklanders taking to the greens

ANZAC Day casual golf match at Gulf Harbours Country Club. Photo: Bronagh Balemi

A growing number of men in their twenties are choosing to play golf rather than video games in their spare time.

Many North Shore golf clubs have reported a significant increase in young male members in recent years — with a nation-wide membership increase of just under 10 per cent.

Avid golf player, 24-year-old Matthew, who declined to use his full name, now spends most of his free time at the Takapuna Driving Range and North Shore golf courses.

“Outside of work I spent a lot of my time playing video games and, on the weekends, it was just lots of drinking,” says Matthew.

Many of Matthew’s friends have picked up golf, and he estimates he’s played around 18 games in the past month.

Matthew has also noted improvements in his mental and physical health since he began playing golf only a few months ago.

“Playing video games can definitely be fun, but in the long-term it isn’t healthy and can be quite damaging on people's social lives and general mental health.

“I think that’s why so many of us are drawn to sports like golf, because it takes you away from that.”

Participating in three to four hours of physical activity per week has shown to increase mental well-being by as much as 65 per cent, according to Sport New Zealand.

Greenkeeper for the North Shore Golf Course, Alex Kelly, says the stigma around golf is fading as fleets of younger players hit the greens.

“It isn’t just an old person's sport anymore. Go down to your local driving range with a couple mates and hit some balls, it’s always a good time and a good way to get exercise.”

This new-found attraction to the sport is good news for the golf industry, which has struggled in recent years due to the pandemic.

"The positive energy and momentum created by the new club members and participants are fantastic for the future of our sport; long may it continue,” said New Zealand Golf in its Korowhā Aotearoa Inc Annual Report.

Golf's popularity among young men in Auckland is only set to grow as more people trade in video game controllers for golf clubs.

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