American Express Business Insights recently released a special report, “2011 Spend Sights: U.S. Business & Consumer Golf Spending,” which analyzes spending patterns at both public and private golf courses, as well as golf retail locations around the country.  Based on actual, aggregated spending data between Q1 2007 and Q1 2011, the new research reveals several compelling trends in golf, a sport significantly impacted by weaker spending during the recession.  Most notably, Generation Y, comprising individuals between the ages of 18 and 29, increased spend on golf by 27% between 2007 and 2011, while all other age groups decreased spend during this period: Seniors (ages 66 and older), -21%, Boomers (ages 46 to 66), -19%, and Generation X (ages 30 to 45), -19%.

Key findings from the American Express Business Insights report include: 

  • Golf Retail Seeing Healthy Recovery While spending on the course has not yet posted a sustained post-recession recovery, retail spending on items such as golf equipment and apparel came back much faster with Q1 2011 spending up 10%, year-over-year.
  • New Golf Hot Spots Emerge – Several new regions have emerged as prime golfing destinations based on increases in spend at courses in their state – including South Dakota (40%), Iowa (12%) and Delaware (12%).  In contrast, the group of US states typically receiving the lion’s share of golf spend (49% total) all saw decreases in 2010 over the year prior: California (-10%), Texas (-5%), Florida (-14%), New York (-4%), Georgia (-7%).
  • Businesses Show Restraint in Golf Spend Traditionally viewed as an effective backdrop for deal-making, golf experienced a drop in activity by small and large businesses, with respective decreases in spend of 25% and 35% between Q1 2007 and Q1 2011.  However, both small and large businesses have increased spending on golf courses over each of the last four quarters.

 

“Golf has a reputation as a rich man’s game and while the numbers prove that out, it didn’t help shield the sport from the impact of the recession,” said Ed Jay, Senior Vice President at American Express Business Insights. “There is a surprising bright spot with Generation Y becoming the group to watch, increasing spend while older generations pull back.”

[Source:  “2011 Spend Sights: U.S. Business & Consumer Golf Spending.”  American Express Business Insights.  17 June 2011.  Web.  20 June 2011.]