The 12,000 golf courses in the US generate combined annual revenue of about $21 billion. Large companies include ClubCorp and American Golf. About 3,000 courses, with over $8 billion of revenue, are owned by non-profit entities such as municipalities and private clubs.
The industry is highly fragmented: within the commercial segment, the 50 largest companies account for only about 25 percent of the market. Most companies operate just one or two courses. The average commercial course has annual revenue of about $1 million.
Demand is driven by demographics and population growth. The profitability of individual companies depends on efficient operations and good marketing, because many costs are fixed. Large companies can have advantages in management experience. Small companies can compete successfully by operating in favorable locations or through superior marketing. The industry is very labor-intensive: annual revenue per employee is just $55,000.
Golf courses receive revenue from membership dues, activity fees, sales of food and drinks, and sales of merchandise. Membership dues account for a third of industry revenue; activity fees (“greens fees”), 25 percent; food and drinks, 25 percent.
Golf courses can be classified as private or open to the public. Private courses may be associated with country clubs, golf clubs, or real estate developments. Courses open to the public may be associated with resorts or operated as local “daily fee” courses, including commercial and municipal ..
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