Boom! That sound is the $195 billion impact of golf in the US

This article was originally published by In Business Las Vegas

April 16, 2008– "Sex is like money, golf and beer – even when it's bad, it's good," Jimmy Williams.

Anytime the word billion is thrown around, you obviously know you’re talking about something substantial. It’s a strong word, and when it comes to money, a billion is where the big dogs walk. And now, after the release of study funded by the World Golf Foundation’s Golf 20/20 initiative and implemented by the Stanford Research Institute, golf as an entity is a really big dog. The study reveals that as an entire business, the direct and indirect impact of golf on the US economy was $195 billion in 2005. Now that’s a lot of Titleists.

With direct revenues of $76 billion, golf is now, at least according to the study, making a bigger impact than the movie and video industry, and the $28 billion in direct revenue from golf facilities is more than the combined facility revenues from all professional and semi-professional spectator sports. The report also concluded that golf was a bigger industry than newspaper publishing. Pretty amazing numbers.

“This new report presents an encouraging picture for golf in the United States,” said David Fay, Chairman of the World Golf Foundation and Executive Director of the USGA. “Most of the game’s major segments continue to show a healthy pattern of steady growth. And, as the data clearly shows, this growth provides a strong underpinning to jobs, commerce, economic development and tax revenues for a large number of U.S. communities and industries.”

Some of the more impressive statistics released included that there are more than two million jobs created by the golf industry, and those jobs generate more than $61 billion in total wage income. And golf helped generate more than $3.5 billion for charity, $15 billion for the real estate industry, and an estimated $18 billion for the travel and hospitality industries. More good news for golf was that the reported numbers represented a 4.1 percent increase—or about $14 billion—from 2002, when the last study was done.

“This new data provides a roadmap for the continued growth and health of the golf industry in this country,” said Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation. “One of the most exciting developments of the last several years has been the ability to take the economic impact template for this national report and apply it at the state level. Already, we’ve seen a number of states begin to produce and publicize their own reports. This offers those states several important benefits, including an improved ability to secure public support for increased golf tourism promotion, as well as positively impacting legislation that can benefit golf facilities. We expect to see a significant increase in this research and reporting activity at the state level in this next five year period, which should certainly be reflected in the next U.S. Golf Economy Report.

Locally, golf is also making a huge financial impact. A recent study conducted by the Restrepo Consulting Group and funded by the Nevada Golf Course Owners Association showed that golf courses in Southern Nevada generated an impact of just under $1 billion on the local community through direct and indirect expenditures. The survey also concluded that the industry created more than 4,400 jobs. Those jobs generated about $84 million in total wages. The study also made note of the fact that about 700,000 visiting golfers annually tee it up on the Las Vegas golf courses, and generate another $1.1 billion in estimated revenue for Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. And that number doesn’t include the economic impact of the golfers who are gamblers. And as most of us know, 99% of golfers are gamblers, both on the golf course and off.

So the next time you tee it up, don’t feel guilty about missing work or not fulfilling some other obligations. You are doing your community and country a service by adding to an industry that is generating b-b-billions. Now, take that TaylorMade driver out of your golf bag and let the big dog eat on the first tee of your favorite golf course.

Writer Brian Hurlburt is the Founding Editor of GolfLasVegasNow.com and contributor to In Business Las Vegas and VegasGolfer Magazine.

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