Value of Golf

Golf is more than a game – the 2016 U.S. Golf Economy Report quantified golf's annual direct economic impact as $84.1 billion, the industry provides nearly 2 million jobs and $58.7 billion in wage income. In total, the U.S. golf economy exceeds $191.9 billion in direct, indirect and induced impacts. The golf industry produced $25.7 billion in travel expenditures in 2016. Golf’s core industries exceed the charitable impact of the Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League combined. As a significant contributor to the U.S. economy, the continued health and growth of the golf industry has a direct bearing on jobs, economic development and tax revenues for thousands of communities across the country.

Golf facilities are good for the communities they serve. Golf contributes to society by providing economic, human, health/wellness and environmental benefits. Golf facilities are professionally managed by individuals who have achieved various levels of certification, they serve as managed open green space providing habitat for wildlife, and they generate $3.9 billion for charity each year. Golf as a fundraising vehicle includes an estimated 12,700 golf facilities, 143,000 events, 12 million participants and raises $26,300 average per function. Golf courses are a valuable use of land and can provide solutions to problems resulting from land degradation and urban development, including stormwater management, wetland mitigation and brownfield redevelopment.

GCSAA supports partnerships and collaboration with federal and state commerce departments and federal, state and local chamber of commerce organizations to advance the growth of the game of golf. Golf should be included in federal catastrophic relief targeted at businesses following natural disasters. Golf should have access to federal incentives and funding that stimulates the golf industry. Local and state golf associations should continue to invest in economic impact reports as a means to educate local, state and federal policymakers on the values of the golf industry.

GCSAA and the National Turfgrass Federation need support to promote turfgrass research and its many benefits, aided by academia, competitive government grants, and private industry. Turfgrass should be recognized as an important specialty crop by the USDA and Congress. GCSAA urges Congress to prioritize future turfgrass research funds via the Farm Bill and annual Agriculture Appropriations legislation. Farm Bill funding will support research that encourages discovery of solutions in areas ranging from drought and water conservation to soil erosion mitigation and enhancing commercial, recreational and residential spaces.

Golf is a sport played by more than 24 million Americans and enjoyed as a favorite spectator activity by millions more. But it is far more than a game: golf is a leading U.S. industry that makes a wide variety of positive contributions to society. 76 percent of golf facilities are open to the public. Approximately 8 of 10 golfers play on public courses.

Turfgrass comprises 60+ million acres; 4th largest crop in the U.S. Turf is horticulture’s most omnipresent crop worldwide. The 2 million acres on our nation’s golf courses provide golfers with playing conditions that promote health and well-being while serving as important green spaces in communities.

In 2016, the golf industry released new health and wellness data. A regular game of golf is likely to increase life expectancy and lead to better physical health, according to University of Edinburgh researchers. The review of 5,000 studies on golf and wellbeing found physical benefits increased with the player's age. The study is part of the Gold and Health Project, which is led by the World Golf Foundation. Walking 18 holes is equal to a 5-mile walk or 3.5-to-4-mile run. Playing golf and walking 18 holes can burn up to 2,000 calories. Golfers exceed 10,000 steps in a typical round of golf, meeting the recommended guidelines for daily exercise.

Most golf facilities in the U.S. qualify as small businesses according to the Small Business Administration. The golf facility size standard to be qualified as a small business is $15 million in average annual receipts. Unfortunately, golf has been excluded from receiving benefits from several prominent pieces of federal legislation including relief for the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, relief to victims of natural disasters across the country in 2008 and 2009, and in 2009 with the federal economic stimulus bill. Continued exclusion of the golf industry – a major generator of jobs and tax revenue across the country – from relief and stimulus measures being considered by Congress is a serious challenge facing the industry.

Collectively golf is big business, but as an industry comprised mostly of small businesses, its longevity and sustainability are sensitive like other industries to the uncertainty of economic conditions and impacts of unnecessary regulation. Many individual golf facilities often operate on small profit margins.

On April 18, 2012, over 95 members of the golf industry converged on Capitol Hill for the 5th annual National Golf Day. Over 100+ individual meetings with members of Congress and their senior staff were held.

We Are Golf supported the White House’s Summer Job+ Program, which was a call to action for businesses, non-profits and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for America’s youth in the summer of 2012.

As of June 2015, 34 states had commissioned state economic impact studies. Texas, Utah and Virginia completed studies also in 2013. An economic impact study for Pennsylvania began in August 2015 and is scheduled to be completed in December 2015.

The 6th National Golf Day was held on Capitol Hill on April 16, 2013. The GCSAA Board Of Directors, staff and Government Relations Committee held 60+ meetings with Members of Congress.

The 7th National Golf Day was held on Capitol Hill on May 21, 2014. The GCSAA delegation held 80+ meetings with Members of Congress and their staff. The meetings focused on the proposed “Waters of the United States” rule and preservation of conservation easements on golf properties.

During the 7th National Golf Day, GCSAA held strategic meetings with the EPA Office of Water, the White House Office of Economic Council and numerous Senate and House committee chairs.

In 2014, GCSAA pushed for passage of H.R. 2203 to honor Jack Nicklaus with the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his contributions to our nation.

In 2014, Charlie Sifford received the Medal of Freedom by the White House. GCSAA supported the nomination through a letter writing campaign.

The 8th National Golf Day was held on Capitol Hill on April 15, 2015. The GCSAA Board of Directors, staff and Government Relations Committee, and other guests held 75+ meetings with Members of Congress and their staff. The meetings focused on the proposed “Waters of the United States” rule and golf as an environmental steward.

In 2015, GCSAA’s Government Relations Committee held special group meetings with Senators from the Senate Small Business, Agriculture and Appropriations Committees.

Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon and Michigan conducted a state golf day in 2015.

The 9th National Golf Day was held on Capitol Hill on May 18, 2016. The GCSAA Board of Directors, staff and Government Affairs Committee, and other guests held 150+ meetings with Members of Congress and their staff. The meetings focused on labor/business and environmental regulations of concern as well as the PHIT Act. GCSAA brought 60 attendees to National Golf Day including 30 of its Grassroots Ambassadors.

The golf industry applauded the return of golf to the Olympics in 2016.

SRI International completed an Economic Impact Study for the state of Pennsylvania in January 2016. The completion of the Pennsylvania study brings the total to 33 studies that have been completed since the program’s inception. Additionally, two studies will begin in the Fall of 2016 with scheduled completion dates in January, 2017: Washington and Iowa.