Golf in the Middle East Drives Biggest Revenues According to Study


KPMG's Golf Benchmark Survey Summary Report, published on January 25th, reveals that average revenues for golf courses in the Middle East are three to four times higher than similar golf course businesses in Europe.

As Tiger Woods prepares to tee off in next week's Dubai Desert Classic, part of the European Tour's lucrative Desert Swing, the annual report by KPMG Golf Advisory Services in EMA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) found that revenues of 18-hole golf courses in the Middle East average 5.3 million Euros, three to four times more than golf courses in Europe.

Courses in Dubai are proving especially successful, with revenues averaging just under EUR 7 million, dwarfing other top-five golf locations - Portugal and the Netherlands (EUR 1.8 million); Spain (EUR 1.5 million); and Ireland (EUR 1.3 million).

Golf in the Gulf, however, is also the most expensive anywhere in the EMA region. On average 18-hole weekend green fees in the Middle East cost EUR 107, more than double the average EUR 50 paid in Great Britain and Ireland.

The UAE, where rapid development is underway with an estimated 20 new golf courses in the planning, design or construction phase, is also the most expensive country for an 18-hole weekend green fee, EUR 121, followed by popular golf tourist destination Portugal, EUR 78, and upcoming golf destinations Cyprus and Turkey, both EUR 76.

The least expensive courses to play golf (average 18-hole weekend green fee) are located in South Africa (EUR 30), and Eastern Europe (EUR 37).

"Golf in the Middle East continues to drive forward, setting new and extraordinarily high standards for the international golf business," said Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG's specialist Golf Advisory Services Team in EMA. "The influx of expatriates from traditional golfing countries such as the UK, Ireland and Australia, and the interest of international golf tourists, continues to fuel the golf boom. Dubai, in particular, has led the way in positioning itself as a global destination for golf."

Nearly 1,500 golf courses across the EMA region submitted key data from 2006 results for the Golf Benchmark Survey, which is designed to help golf course owners and operators to compare their own business against high, average and low performers in their geographic markets. All regional reports, plus the comparative Summary Report, are now available for download, free of charge, from www.golfbenchmark.com.     

Other highlights from the Golf Benchmark Survey, which is supported by leading golf industry businesses Nicklaus Design, Toro, GPS Industries (GPSI), Leisurecorp and Troon Golf, include:

* With approximately 820 members, the membership base of German 18-hole golf clubs is one of the highest in Europe, but still below the 1,000 level surpassed by courses in Norway, Sweden, Spain and South Africa.

* With 33%, golf courses in the Central European region registered the highest share of female members in comparison to all other regions of the Golf Benchmark Survey.

* Golf is now one of the most popular sports in the Benelux countries, and the growth in registered players has outpaced supply growth, primarily due to a strong increase in demand in the Netherlands.

* Despite 12.5% growth in the number of affiliated players since last year, demand for golf in Eastern Europe remains relatively low. This can be partly explained by the relatively high pricing, despite consumers' significantly weaker spending power.

* Spanish and Portuguese 18-hole golf courses are among the busiest in Europe, with around 30,000 rounds per year on average. However, both countries are out-performed by the Middle East (nearly 42,000) and South Africa (33,400).

* All participating golf courses from the South-East Mediterranean indicated their future business prospects as good or excellent, reflecting the positive sentiment towards the development of golf in these countries.

* Golf courses in South Africa, like the Middle East, have year-round availability and high volumes of play. However, their revenues and operating profits are significantly lower, due largely to their green fees and membership fees being among the lowest across the EMA region.

* While Great Britain and Ireland remains by far the largest market with 44.7% of all golf courses and 34.7% of registered players, compared to 0.3% and 0.4% respectively in the Middle East, it is the Middle East that is setting new business performance standards. Despite boasting more than ten times more staff than courses in Europe - on average there are 188 staff at 18-hole golf courses in the Middle East - courses here enjoy average profit margins of 32%, higher than anywhere in the EMA region.

"Golf in the Middle East continues to grow rapidly, and with Tiger Woods designing his first signature golf course in Dubai (Al Ruwaya), and the European Tour's recent announcements about the Dubai World Championship from 2009, plus The Race to Dubai, there will be further significant development," added Sartori.


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