Global Edition

Golf more popular in Ireland than other EMA countries

12.34am 30th January 2008 - Management Topics

KPMG’s Golf Benchmark Survey Summary Report reveals that golf is now more popular in Ireland than any other country in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMA).

Nearly one in every 15 people in Ireland, or 7% of the population, is an affiliated golfer – a higher participation rate than Scotland (5%), England (1.9%), or Wales (2.4%), which will host the 2010 Ryder Cup. Sweden (6%) boasts the second highest participation rate in EMA, ahead of Iceland (5.3%).

The report, which measures the business performance of golf courses across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMA), combined with a dedicated regional report for Great Britain and Ireland, highlights that golf is also a money-spinner in Ireland with 18-hole courses averaging revenues of EUR 1.3 million, proving to be the fifth highest-earner in EMA behind Dubai with an incredible EUR 7 million, Portugal and the Netherlands EUR 1.8 million, and Spain EUR 1.5 million.

The top 20% of golf courses in Great Britain and Ireland reported average revenues of EUR 2.2 million, more than double the average of EUR 1 million for the region, with courses in Ireland among some of the best performers.

However, golf courses in Ireland charge significantly higher membership fees than England, Scotland or Wales. Initiation (joining) fees at Irish clubs average EUR 5,993, while annual subscriptions average EUR 949, compared to the GB&I average of EUR 2,327 and EUR 821 respectively. Even so, surveyed 18-hole facilities in Ireland boast an average membership of 830, more than England (665), Scotland (659) and Wales (605).

The most expensive green fees are in Scotland, where it costs EUR 45 for a weekday round and EUR 54 at weekends, compared to EUR 42/51 in Ireland, EUR 42/49 in England and EUR 40/49 in Wales. Overall, green fees are in line with Europe, but lower than courses in Spain (EUR 59/66) and Portugal (EUR 71/78).

According to the Survey, Scotland’s 18-hole golf courses are the busiest, averaging 34,000 rounds per year compared to 31,000 in England, 27,000 in Ireland and 24,000 in Wales .

With approximately 3,000 golf courses (45% of the total number of courses in EMA) and 1.5 million registered golfers (35% of all players), Great Britain and Ireland is the largest and most mature golf market in the EMA region.

“Irish golf is a fantastic success story,” said Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s specialist Golf Advisory Practice EMA. “Ireland has the highest participation rate in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, although the market is still growing both in terms of supply and demand for golf.”

Nearly 1,500 golf courses across the EMA region – including more than 650 courses from Great Britain and Ireland – submitted key data from 2006 results for the Golf Benchmark Survey, which is being supported by leading golf industry businesses Nicklaus Design, Toro, GPS Industries (GPSI), Leisurecorp and Troon Golf. The Survey is designed to help golf course owners and operators to compare their own business against high, average and low performers in their geographic markets. All regional reports, plus the comparative Summary Report, are now available for download, free of charge, from:

Overall, it is the small but growing number of golf courses in the Middle East – and Dubai in particular, where World Number One Tiger Woods tees off in this week’s Dubai Desert Classic – that are the top performers. With average revenues of EUR 5.3 million and average profit margins of 32%, fuelled by the highest annual membership subscriptions (EUR 2,982) and 18-hole weekend green fees (EUR 107) in the EMA, the number of courses in the UAE alone is expected to triple in the next few years from the current ten.

“Golf in the Middle East continues to grow rapidly, and with Tiger Woods designing his first signature golf course in Dubai (Al Ruwaya), and the European Tour’s recent announcements about the Dubai World Championship from 2009, plus The Race to Dubai, there will be further significant development,” added Andrea Sartori.

To download the Golf Benchmark Survey Great Britain & Ireland Regional Report, including a market overview, plus the Summary Report, free of charge, visit:

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