No Lie: Despite Challenges, Golf Business An $84B Industry, $192B Economic Activity
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 10:36AM in Golf, Golf, We Are Golf, finances, sports marketing

By Barry Janoff

April 24, 2018: In 2016, golf returned to the Summer Olympics in Rio for the first time since 1904.

That same year, worldwide sponsorship spend on golf hit a record $1.82 billion, up 5.1% from the $1.72 billion spent in 2015, according to the Golf Sponsorship Spending Report from research and media intelligence firm ESP Properties, Chicago.

That $1.82 billion, however, represents just a small portion of golf’s financial impact worldwide.

In 2016, there was $84.1 billion in activity directly driven by golf, including $34.4 billion in revenue from golf courses, clubs, resorts, driving ranges and other facilities; and $25.7 billion in golf-related tourism spending, according to the just released U.S. Golf Economy Report from We Are Golf.

Overall, the golf industry supported $191.9 billion in total annual activity, including 1.89 million jobs and $58.7B in wages and benefits, according to St. Augustine, Fla.-based We Are Golf, a coalition of the game’s top associations and industry partners.

The report was released to coincide with National Golf Day (April 25).

The golf industry has hit some traps over the past few years, including Nike Golf phasing out clubs, balls and bags; adidas selling its golf-equipment brands TaylorMade, Adams and Ashworth; and Golfsmith filing for bankruptcy, with Dick’s Sporting Goods purchasing the name and 30 of Golfsmith’s 100-plus locations.

Also, according to industry analysts, since 2011, the number of golf facilities has declined and new course construction and golf community development is down.

On the plus side, The PGA Tour Superstore, now regarded as the No. 1 golf-specific national retailer in the U.S., is expanding and TopGolf continues to open and plan for new locations.

The financial impact of the golf business is seen in the rise of activity.

The $84.1 billion in golf-driven activity was up 22% from the $68.8 billion in the 2011 Golf Sponsorship Spending Report, the last time that We Are Golf researched the market.

One in 75 jobs in the U.S. is impacted by the golf industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The many positive trends show how golf is vital to the prosperity of America’s economic and social well-being," Steve Mona, CEO for the World Golf Foundation and administrator of We Are Golf, said in a statement.

“Increases in so many categories signify the health of golf has far-reaching influence across many sectors of the U.S. economy.”

Among the findings in the U.S. Golf Economy Report, which was conducted by TEConomy Partners: golf’s annual contributions to the U.S. economy include:

• $34.4 billion in revenue from golf courses, clubs, resorts, driving ranges and other facilities (2.9% compound annual growth rate since 2011)

• $25.7 billion in tourism spending (4.6% CAGR)

• $7.2 billion in new home construction in golf communities (18.5% CAGR)

• $6 billion in sales of golf equipment, apparel and supplies (1.4% CAGR)

• $2.4 billion in professional tournaments, associations and player endorsements (3.16% CAGR)

• $1.9B billion investment in existing golf facilities (4.6% CAGR)

In addition, $3.94 billion was raised in 2016 for charity, through tournaments and other activities.

Sponsorship spend on golf $1.65 billion in 2014, $1.6 billion in 2013, $1.51 billion in 2012. $1,4 billion in 2011 and $1.36 billion in 2010, according ESP Properties.

According to the National Golf Foundation, in 2017, the number of people who played golf within the last 12 months amounted to 25.95 million in the U.S.

Among the highest-paid athletes in the world in 2017, according to Fobes, Rory McIlroy was No. 6 at $50 million ($34 million from endorsements), Phil Mickelson No. 12 ($43.5 million, $40 million from endorsements), Tiger Woods No. 17 ($37.1 million all but $100,000 from endorsements), Jordan Spieth No. 21 ($34.5 million, $29 million from endorsements) and Dustin Johnson No. 48 ($27.6 million, $11 million from endorsements).

"With one in 75 U.S. jobs impacted by golf, the industry plays a significant role in stimulating our economy nationwide,” said Mona.

“Last year, a record 2.5 million people tried golf for the first time, further cementing why it is vital to share golf’s interests with our country’s lawmakers, showcasing the game’s many economic, charitable and fitness benefits.”

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