It’s not a coincidence that the Patron Saint of Scotland, Saint Andrew, is also the Patron Saint of golf. Could he be the patron saint of economic impact as well?
According to a new report published by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) and highlighted by The Herald, golf was worth an astonishing £4.3 billion ($6 billion) to Great Britain in 2014. It accounted for 14 percent of all consumer spending on sports activities, and generated £990 million ($1.4 billion in taxes for the government in a single calendar year. Golf equipment and clothing alone accounted for £939 million ($1.3 billion) of consumer expenditures, and golf related tourism, events and accommodation a further £775 million ($1.1 billion).
Golf also creates robust employment in Great Britain. The industry as a whole employs 74,480 people, and one-third of them are employed directly by golf clubs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Despite Scotland’s status as the birthplace of golf, a majority of these courses are located in England. The independent report was commissioned by The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (The R&A).
“Golf is the first sport in the UK to evaluate its contribution to economic development in line with the government’s ‘Sporting Future’ strategy and these findings give us an important economic baseline for the golf industry against which we can measure future growth,” said Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A. “There is plenty of room for optimism that golf can maintain and develop its position as one of the most popular sports in the UK, particularly in the year when it makes its return to the Olympic Games in Rio,” he said.
The report, which also cited the positive physiological and mental health benefits of golf, estimated that there are 1.5 million adult golfers in the UK who play at least once a week. This figure is twice as high as the regular participation rate of tennis (825,343 adults) or badminton (825,962 adults). In total, nearly four million adult golfers in the UK play at least once a year. Golf even attracts record numbers of volunteers: the study concluded that an estimated 178,000 volunteers contributed 2.1million volunteer days in 2014 alone. These volunteer days were calculated to be worth £137 million ($194 million) annually to the British economy.
The report’s findings may help bolster the golf industry in the UK, which is often at odds with environmentalists and home owners. As of 2012, there were 2,989 golf courses in Great Britain, which represents a drop from over 3,000 courses in the country in 2010.