London (AFP) - The world was host to 34,011 golf courses and facilities at the start of this year, ruling body the R&A revealed in a new report issued on Wednesday.
It was the first time that such a report had been commissioned coming at a time when the sport is growing globally and will return to the Olympic fold at Rio de Janeiro next year.
Produced by the National Golf Foundation (NGF), a golf market research organisation based in the United States, the report reveals that by the end of 2014, there were 34,011 golf courses and facilities in 206 countries around the world.
Of these facilities 79% are located in ten countries -- the United States, Japan, Canada, England, Australia, Germany, France, Scotland, South Africa and Sweden.
Although the United States is home to 45% of the world’s golf facilities and Europe to 22%, the report also states that there are 50 countries with only one golf facility compared to 30 with more than 100 and eight (outside of the United States) with more than 500.
The report tracks the development of golf worldwide and finds that 696 golf courses are under construction or in advance planning.
While 80% of these new projects are in Asia, Europe and North America, there are clear signs the sport is spreading with countries such as Belarus, Azerbaijan and Georgia opening their first golf courses in the last two years.
There are initial courses under construction in countries as diverse as Macedonia and Sao Tome and Principe.
Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A said, "The new report provides a fascinating insight in to the development of golf around the world and gives us a precise measure of the number of facilities for the first time."
The report will be produced biennially and will allow monitoring of the sport’s development in future years.
The Golf around the world report is available to download at .