Golf in Scotland is a $1.8 billion industry, says new study

Muirfield Golf Club clubhouse
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The 2013 British Open at Muirfield will deliver a £70 million ($109 million) economic benefit to Scotland.
By John Holmes

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Sunday, June 09, 2013 | 3:06 p.m.

Scotland has long been known as the ''home of golf,'' but only recently has its golf industry been analyzed in detail. The results are interesting.

The new 'Value of Golf to Scotland's Economy' report found that the industry generates £1.171 billion ($1.82 billion) in annual revenues, including what it called ''direct, indirect and induced effects.'' By contrast, the U.S. golf economy is worth $68.8 billion per year, according to the We Are Golf coalition of U.S. golf industry leaders.

More than 20,000 people are employed in golf in Scotland – one in every 125 jobs in the country is dependent on golf. That creates wages of £300 million ($466 million).

''This report clearly demonstrates the significant value of golf to Scotland's economy,'' said Hamish Grey, CEO of the Scottish Golf Union. ''Comparing it to other industries, we can now see for the first time that, for example, golf's direct contribution to GDP is 89 percent that of fishing and fish farming, and 83 percent that of air transport. 

The report focuses on six sectors of the golf industry – golf facility operations, golf course capital investments, golf supplies, golf tournaments and endorsements, golf tourism and golf real estate – and is based on 2011 data. Here are some of its key findings:

--There are more than 600 golf facilities in Scotland, of which 597 are golf courses. In total, golf facilities support more than 12,300 jobs and generate annual revenues of £582 million ($905 million).

--The sale of ''golf supplies'' – what the report counts as equipment, apparel and accessories – adds up to revenues of £157 million ($244 million). Golf professionals and on-course golf shops account for approximately 85 percent of the market. The golf supplies sector supports 1,660 jobs.

--In 2011, golf tournaments and endorsements generated total revenues of £46 million ($71 million), though the report notes that the British Open was played in England that year. The R&A forecasts the 2013 Open at Muirfield will deliver a £70 million ($109 million) economic benefit to the greater Edinburgh region.

--Golf tourism generated £120 million ($187 million) in revenues for the Scottish economy. This excludes green fees, which the report counts as golf facility operations revenue. Scottish golf tourism is worth about £220 million ($342 million) annually, and about 1,480 people are directly employed in golf tourism. 

--About one-third of the rounds in Scotland are played by non-Scottish golfers. Of those, 57 percent are from the rest of the United Kingdom, 19 percent from Europe, 17 percent from North America and 8 percent from elsewhere.

The 'Value of Golf to Scotland's Economy' report was commissioned by the Scottish Golf Union in conjunction with VisitScotland (the government tourism arm) and Scottish Enterprise (which helps identify opportunities for economic growth). It was conducted by KPMG in association with Oxford Economics, and released June 4 at the KPMG Golf Business Forum in St. Andrews, Scotland.

A related study of the social impact of golf in Scotland is being developed and will be finalized later this summer.  

To read the entire report, click here.