KPMG tracks golf’s growth in China
2nd December 2008
A new report on the growth of golf in China describes a market with about 300,000 players and that is one of the most expensive in the world.
The study, prepared by KPMG Golf Advisory Practice based in Budapest, is part of the consultancy’s third annual Golf Benchmark Survey, which analyzes the state of golf business in a variety of global markets. This is the first time China has been included in the survey.
According to the report, there are now approximately 300 courses, more than half of which have opened since 2000. Though reliable statistics on the number of golfers are not available, KPMG estimates there are approximately 300,000 people who are either members of clubs or who play golf regularly.
But in order to play, they’re paying quite a price.
The average initiation fee of a golf club in China is $53,000 – more than four times the cost of a membership in Spain and Switzerland, the countries with Europe’s most expensive fees. One-in-ten Chinese clubs charges initiation fees exceeding $100,000.
Green fees in China also are the highest of any country studied by KPMG. Chinese golfers pay on average $161 to play an 18-hole weekend round, which exceeds the average green fee in Dubai – $152.
“Asked about their future expectations, 98 percent of the golf course operators we surveyed said prospects were either ‘excellent’ or ‘good.’ Our analysis was conducted prior to this autumn’s global financial crisis, but we still expect the medium to long-term prospects for Chinese golf to be strong,” said Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice.
“If even one in every thousand Chinese played golf by 2030, that would add up to 1.3 million golfers, requiring perhaps 1,700 new courses over the next two decades,” Sartori said. “But the extremely high pricing policy and the government’s continuing ban on the development of golf courses on agricultural land could be barriers to that kind of growth.”
Among other key findings:
• Golf is male-dominated in China: 87 percent of club members are men.
• Membership numbers per course are relatively low, averaging 403 players per 18-hole course, compared with 1,094 in South Africa and 703 in Great Britain and Ireland.
• Staffing at Chinese courses is extremely high, higher than any region covered thus far by the Golf Benchmark Survey. An 18-hole course employs on average 258 full-time staff, more than 10 times the number employed by courses in Western Europe.
The report, which surveyed 70 clubs across China, cites three main factors behind the sport’s growth: a rapidly expanding economy, which has generated corporate demand for the game; a booming leisure and tourism industry; and media exposure driven by professional tournaments such as the World Cup, which will be staged in China annually until 2018.