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Golf Continuing to Expand, Says Report

The par-three 16th at the BRG Danang Golf Resort, one of 78 courses in play in Vietnam.

St Andrews, Scotland: A new report exploring golf’s global reach through course supply has revealed the continued expansion of the sport.

The third version of Golf Around the World 2019, commissioned by The R&A, provides an extensive overview of golf courses, both existing and under development.

Building on previous editions in 2015 and 2017, the publication paints a picture of current conditions and a preview of the near future, while analysing the larger context of history, economic development and political decision-making.

As of the end of 2018, the report details the existence of 38,864 golf courses in 209 of the world’s 249 countries. The sport is geographically concentrated, with 78% of the world supply of courses located in the top 10 golfing countries, namely the United States, Japan, Canada, England, Australia, Germany, France, Republic of Korea, Sweden and Scotland.

While the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and Canada account for 80% of recent closures, this trend is partially offset by a combination of growth and stability in the smaller markets. During 2017-2018, 20% of golfing countries registered growth in course supply and 64% experienced no change.

For example, Turkmenistan joined the ranks of golfing countries in 2018 with the opening of the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ashgabat Golf Club.

Moreover, the report highlights the emergence of Vietnam as a major market and the use of golf courses as an engine of local development, as in Argentina, Portugal and Turkey.

Worldwide, there are 534 new golf course projects in various stages of active construction or advanced planning across 101 countries. Of these emerging golf courses, 64% are associated with resort developments, highlighting a functional affinity among golf, tourism and economic development.

Africa, which opened 25 courses from 2014-2018, has another 56 underway, involving 18 different countries. European development has moved eastward on the Continent, with Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Kazakhstan all sporting new projects that are tied to residential and resort development complexes.

Asia, with 17% of all golf course supply, is home to 28% of all new development. The shift is noticeably to the south, with Vietnam having 78 courses in place and another 43 in different stages of development. India, with 294 courses operating, is in the process of developing 30 more.   

Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Golf Development and Amateur Events at The R&A, said: “Golf Around the World provides the sport with a global view of golf’s reach in terms of the supply of golf courses, both existing and under development.

“It also highlights emerging trends across the world’s different regions, giving a snapshot of current conditions and a preview of the near future. We believe that our affiliates and partners in golf will find this publication very useful.”

The report and the research behind it have been funded by The R&A, along with many of the world’s leading companies. Collectively, they have supported and helped disseminate the work of the National Golf Foundation, a US-based golf business association, that has developed and maintains a complete inventory of golf courses in the world.

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