Market intelligence sets future agenda

By Andrea Sartori

KPMG's newly published Golf Benchmark Survey in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) should revitalise an international business starved of quality information and provide industry stakeholders with essential performance and financial benchmarks indicators.

We are really excited about these reports, as nothing like it has been done before on such an extensive geographical scale. For the first time, we have laid out a series of benchmarks that will hopefully become international standards for operators, investors, developers and golf course architects. Our aim is to help set the agenda for the future of the business.

Golf is developing significantly throughout the EMEA region, but while advising investors and developers on golfrelated property projects from Prague to Cape Town, we found that there was a lack of useful market intelligence. So we decided to research the information ourselves. The result is the Golf Benchmark Survey, which provides essential performance indicators for golf course owners, operators and financiers, enabling them to compare their own business against high, average and low performers in their geographical market.

For investors and developer targeting the golf market, it also offers the opportunity to combine the information with our Golf Course Development Cost Survey in the EMEA region, creating what we think is a really valuable resource for feasibility and business plans.

The Golf Benchmark Survey is based on data supplied by more than 800 golf courses in 27 countries, and consists of seven Regional Reports plus a summary report (all the reports can be downloaded free of charge from www.golfbenchmark.com). The seven regions surveyed are: Northern Europe, Great Britain and Ireland, Western Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South Africa.

The Survey's findings throw up some fascinating comparisons between the regions. For example, we found that the lower pricing strategy adopted by courses in Northern Europe increases the affordability of golf – a contributing factor to this region having the highest level of memberships across EMEA.

What's more, golf courses in Central and Northern Europe have the largest numbers of female and junior members, leading to a continuous growth in demand in these countries.

Since 2000, both the number of golf courses and players in Eastern Europe has tripled, with 68 courses and more than 23,000 registered golfers in the Czech Republic alone, while courses in the Middle East hosted on average more than 45,000 rounds in 2005 in comparison to the 26,000 rounds played on courses in Great Britain & Ireland. 18-hole courses in the Middle East, South Africa and Northern Europe averaged over 100 rounds per playable day in 2005, about 30-40 per cent more than courses in other regions.

Finland and South Africa topped the league of inexpensive annual membership, while Spain was the most expensive with an average annual membership subscription fee of 2,973 euros. At the other end of the equation, annual revenues at golf courses in the United Arab Emirates average approximately 5.9 million euros, four times more than the second best performer, Portugal. It is important to remember that almost 50 per cent of the courses surveyed in 2006 said they operated on a not-for-profit basis, but of those that are profit-seeking, there are stark differences in performance both domestically and across international regions.

What may interest golf course architects in particular is the chapter on Future Market Outlook. Around 60 per cent of courses said they would be carrying out capital investments over the next 12 months, most of which will involve course improvements, especially at privately owned or member-owned courses.

KPMG's Golf Advisory Services team will now be conducting the Golf Benchmark Survey every year, monitoring the significant growth expected of the existing 4.2 million affiliated players and almost 7,000 golf courses across EMEA. I would encourage courses interested in taking part this year to contact our team to request the 2007 questionnaire at: info@golfbenchmark.com.

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