The Economics of Golf

Now that the public has been formally introduced to mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations, I thought our readers would like to know golf is doing its part to help the economy.

It may surprise you that PGA players (and the pro tours in general) contribute just a small amount to golf’s total economic impact. Instead, it’s average golfers like the majority of us that help drive golf-related revenue and subsequently stoke the economy.

According to the most recent study by Golf2020 (conducted in 2007 for the year 2005), golf’s total economic impact is nearly $76 billion annually. Of that figure, all the pro tours combined (PGA, LPGA, Champions, etc.) contributed just $954 million (or about 1% of the total).

Compare that to what we spend to play golf each year (around $27 billion), or on golf-related travel ($18 billion), or on golf equipment ($3.7 billion), or golf apparel ($1.5 billion) – Heck, we even collectively spend a billion dollars at the driving range annually! Actually, we must really want to improve – not only do we spend at the range, but we also plunk down nearly as much ($925 million) on golf-related magazines and books.

Beyond its sport and recreational value, golf is at the heart of a major industry cluster that generates jobs, commerce, economic development, and tax revenues for communities throughout the country. – Golf2020

Golf2020’s methodology extrapolates additional economic impact from the golf industry to include the golf-related jobs and wage incomes surrounding all the aforementioned golf products and services. Furthermore, golf real estate was included in the mix (nearly 64,000 golf course homes were constructed in 2005). Taken as a whole, Golf2020 estimates that golf contributes more than $195 billion annually to the US economy (see chart below). Now that’s allot of green to spend on the greens!

While it would be interesting to see more recent data given the spending decline of the last two years, the 2005 study still suggests golf’s economic importance in the US. Golf2020 notes the golf industry seems to be “staying ahead” of inflation, and golf outperforms industries including other spectator sports and motion pictures.

The full magnitude of every round you play or every golf-related purchase you make rarely comes into perspective, but its nice to know we’re contributing to the health of the overall economy – especially these days. So get out there and keep playing!

Golf2020’s full report can be found HERE.


  1. Most interesting. Glad we golfers are doing our part to improve the economy. Perhaps we should PLAY our way to recovery instead of printing money and giving it away.

  2. Think about it Golf’s impact on the economy is really insignificant. 76 billion in 15.088 trillion economy is like 0.5% (i.e. one half of one percent). We can simply ignore this industry entirely and nothing would be missed.

    The PGA Tour and the PGA of America are both way overrated. We should not support these organizations whose only purpose is to support the Tour players not the game.

  3. How much do Americans spend on Golf lessons every year?

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