Golf courses in Great Britain and Ireland remain optimistic about their future performance, despite participation rates in the sport remaining relatively stagnant.
According to the inaugural KPMG Golf Benchmark Survey, 87% of the courses in Great Britain and Ireland that responded to the international survey rated their future business prospects as either good or excellent.
When comparing the operational and financial performance of golf courses across the EMA region however, it was courses in the United Arab Emirates that came out on top. Average revenues at golf courses in Dubai and the UAE are four times greater than those in Portugal, the second top performer from the 27 countries in the sample.
While the UAE has just 13 golf courses, growing demand from increasing numbers of expatriates and tourists, particularly in Dubai, is fuelling rapid growth with at least 10 new courses planned or under construction.
Elsewhere, the Golf Benchmark Survey reveals the number of golf courses and players in Eastern Europe has tripled since 2000, with 68 courses and 23,000 affiliated golfers in the Czech Republic alone.
In Northern Europe, lower prices have boosted participation rates. More than 5% of the total population in Sweden and Iceland now play golf, resulting in a regional participation rate five times greater than the rest of Europe.
Meanwhile Spain tops the league for the most expensive country to be a member of a golf club with average annual subscriptions of just under EUR 3,000.
But the Middle East is proving to be golf’s international hot spot, with courses in the region averaging 45,000 rounds per year, compared to the 26,000 rounds played on courses in Great Britain and Ireland, and profitability levels (average: 45% gross operating profit) far beyond other courses in the seven regions surveyed.
Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s Travel Leisure and Tourism Practice and initiator of the Golf Benchmark Survey, said: “It is encouraging to see that golf course owners and operators in Great Britain and Ireland are positive on their future outlook. Golf remains an immensely popular sport in the region; however the high supply of courses has resulted in a very competitive marketplace. Golfers in the UK and Ireland are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their demands and I believe it will be the courses that adapt to cater for such needs that will ultimately succeed.”
“Andrea Sartori added: There are now more than 7,000 golf courses and 4.2 million registered golfers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. With increased life expectancy, improved and cheaper air transport, health and fitness awareness as well as growth in disposable income and media coverage in emerging economies, golf is expected to further develop both in terms of demand and supply.”
“The Golf Benchmark Survey provides essential performance indicators for golf course owners, operators and financiers, enabling them to compare their own business against high, average and low performers in their geographical market. “What’s more, I believe the benchmark indicators we have introduced will become standard measures in the international golf business.”
KPMG’s inaugural Golf Benchmark Survey – based on data supplied by more than 800 golf courses in 27 countries – consists of seven Regional Reports plus a Summary Report (all reports can be downloaded free of charge from www.golfbenchmark.com <http://www.golfbenchmark.com/> ). The seven regions surveyed are: Northern Europe, Great Britain and Ireland, Western Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South Africa.