On a professional level, the most obvious sources of money are gate revenue and sponsorship. In 1999 annual gate revenue for the PGA was $147.6 million and $30.5 million for the LPGA. Sponsorship is also a big money maker for the sport. Good sponsors are necessary. The sponsor money pays to put on an event as well as contributes to the overall purse. Title sponsors are the most prominent sponsors and the sponsor who contributes the most. Most sponsorship contracts last a few years and some like the PGA's Honda and Buick have sponsored their respective tournaments for many years.
Revenues generated from the retail sale of golf related equipment - clubs, bags, balls etc. is huge. The total for all equipment purchased in 1990 was $2.5 billion and climbed to over $3 billion in 2002.3 The purchases come from the many online only and online/bricks and mortars retailers. Online only sites can be very specific like Golfballs.com to the very general like Golf Superstore and Golfdiscount.com. Many traditional retailers that operated brick and mortar stores have also moved onto the Internet including Golf Shack, PGA Tour Shops, The Ladies Pro Shop, and more.
Television is an important part of the business of gold as well as being a big money maker. On top of televised events available on ESPN and the other large networks, it now has it's own cable channel which was launched in January of 1995 and has live events as well as instructional and other related programming. The number of subscribers has grown from 1.4 million in 1995 to 36.3 in 2001 and their ad revenue has grown from $2.5 in 1995 to $55.2 in 2001. 4 CBS, ABC, NBC ESPN, and USA have all aired events but CBS's total rights fees are the largest at $142.8 million for 17 events with ABC coming in second in total rights fees with $92.4 million for airing 11 events 5. Overall golf is doing well on television.
Golf courses and the money associated with them are also large. Obviously there are the big names like Pebble Beach and Augusta National both of which draw large PGA events. Pebble Beach was constructed in 1919 has 65,000 rounds per year with estimated earnings from green fees $19.8 million, with an average ticket price of $19.74 (2000), a estimated $8.6 million (2000) in total gate revenue and 130,000 in attendance (2000) 6. While the Augusta National which holds The Master, was built in 1932 has initiation Fees of $25,000 and estimated 2000 gate revenue of $4.8 million. 7 However, there are also the many smaller courses all over the country , many of which are managed by large corporations. For example, there is the American Golf Corporation that manages more than 250 premier private, resort and daily fee courses in the United States and United Kingdom as well as ClubCorp USA, Inc. which owns and operates nearly 200 golf facilities.
Founded in 1916, the PGA is the most well known and oldest of the Tours. The tour's popularity exploded in the 1950's and 1960's and by the mid 1960's the tour was over 40 events and the total purse was over $2 million. Some of their signature events are the PGA Championship, The Master, The U.S. Open, The Ryder Cup, and the Open Championship.
The PGA Tour was formed in 1968 (then known as the Tournament Players Division until 1975) with Joseph C. Day its first commissioner. From 1969 to February 1974 the total purse went from $5.4 million to over $8 million. 8. By 1993 the purse size was $53.2 and by 1999 the purse size was $135 million 9
In 1996 it was estimated that there were 4.8 million fans with an average event attendance of 106,667 and an estimated average ticket price of $15.29. Overall, the annual gate revenue was estimated at $89.9 million with the event gate revenue estimated at $1.6 million. Just 3 years later in 1999 there were an estimated 7 million fans with an estimated average event attendance of 148,809 and an estimated average ticket price of $20.87. The estimated annual gate revenue rose to around $147.6 million and the estimated event gate revenue rose to around $3.1 million.
Many of the PGA events are televised. in 1996 the number of tournaments tracked was 28 which rose to 33 the next year but was back down to 28 in 1999. The total number of events televised remained a constant 56 from 1996 to 1999. However, average ad revenue had gone from $5.2 million in 1996 to $7.7 in 1999. 10 The PGA itself makes money on televised events. In 1998 the revenue was $58.4 million and by 1999 revenue went up to $132.2 million. 11
Sponsorship is very important to the success of a tournament and most PGA events are co-cosponsored. Most of the sponsor fees go toward the overall purse with the rest going toward other expenses. Most contracts are for 3 to 5 years though some, like Honda and Buick, go on much longer. To give an idea of sponsorship, in the year 2000 tournaments had an estimated average title sponsorship fee of $3.6 million per year totaling $152.7 million. 12
There is also the Senior PGA Tour which is relatively new. Begun in the 1980's it has steadily increased from 2 events in 1980 to 45 events with a total purse of over $5.9 million in 2000. 13 The have the Senior Skins Game, the U.S. Seniors Open and the PGA Seniors Championship among others. There has been a steady increase in annual attendance, average event attendance, estimated gate revenue. In 1996 estimated annual attendance was $3.17 million and had rising to around $3.6 million in 2000 with their average event attendance rising from 71,977 in 1996 to about 93,900 in 2000. The estimated annual gate revenue in 1996 was $50.7 million which rose to around $66.4 in 2000. 14 Their revenue growth for the Seniors Tour has not been as fast as that of the PGA. They contributed just $100.1 million to the overall PGA Tour, Inc in 1998 which was up from only $93.5 million in 1993. Most of their revenue is derived from tournaments and membership fees not television which only accounted for approximately 26% of the Tour revenue in 1999. 15
The LPGA was established in 1950 and has been steadily growing. Originally there were 13 founding members - in 2000 there were 408. The LPGA has a few signature events such as the Nabisco Dinah Shore, the LPGA Championship, the U.S. Women's Open Championship, the Women's British Open Championship, and the Solheim Cup.
Growth has been steady in purse amounts, attendance, ticket price, and gate
revenues. At its inception there were 14 events with a total purse of $50,000. 16 However,
by 1990 there were 37 events with a total purse of $17.1 million and by 2000
the tour had grown to 42 events and a total purse of $37.1. 17 In
1995 the estimated annual attendance was 1.58 million by 1999 it was 2.14 million.
Average event attendance was 42,703 million in 1995 and 56,441 million in 1999
with estimated average ticket price rose from $11 in 1995 to $13.51. Big changes
can be seen in gate revenue. In 1995 estimated annual gate revenue was $17.5
million and rose to $30.5 million in 1999 while the average event gate revenue
rose from $434,657 in 1995 to $726,350 in 1999. Unfortunately many LPGA events
do not end up on television - with only 11 of the 43 events in 1999 aired. 18
Because of the relatively little money media rights deals bring in, the LPGA relies heavily on sponsorships. In 1995 $21.5 million cam from sponsorship fees while that figure rose to $28.4 million in the 1998 season. 19
1 "Selected Recreational Activities: 1985 to 2003" Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004-2005. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2004), Table 1240.
2 "Participation in Selected Sports Activities: 2002" Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004 - 2005. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2004), Table 1241.
3 "Sporting goods Sales by Product Category: 1990 to 2003" Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004-2005. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2004), Table 147.
4 Kagan's the Business of Golf. (Carmel, CA: Paul Kagan Associates, 2000), 107.
5 Ibid., 108.
6 Ibid., 167.
7 Ibid., 171.
8 Ibid., 32.
9 Ibid., 33.
10 Ibid., 40.
11 Ibid., 45.
12 Ibid., 42.
13 Ibid., 47.
14 Ibid., 51.
15 Ibid., 53.
16 Ibid., 59.
17 Ibid., 61.
18 Ibid., 66.
19 Ibid., 67.
Golf Business Magazine
Published by the National Golf Course Owners Association, has a searchable archive dating from 2001. Articles cover the topics of interest to golf course owners. Also available in print form: LC Call Number: GV961.G5503 :
LC Catalog Record: 76206975.
From the National Golf Foundation, Golf 20/20 presents the industry's
strategic plan to grow the game of golf. It offers research and reports.
Some reports, like that for market segmentation, have free downloadable Executive
Summaries while others, such as the Industry Report, Golf Economy Report, and
Minority Representation Report, have free downloadable PDF versions.
This site is most concerned with what is available on the channel, but does include nice statistical links on the various tours, as well as a nice history section with a overview of the history of the game, the Majors tours, and a golfers library.
Golf Participation in the U.S. National Golf Foundation.
Includes annual participation rates by frequency of play and golfer segments. Demographic profiles segment golfers by age, gender, household income, education and occupation.
Golf Product News. Fair Lawn, N.J. : Golf Pub. Enterprises, 1990 - present.
The web page was under construction as of 2004.
Articles and other information on all areas of golf.
Golf Industry Online
This is a b2b site with news and information about the golf industry, links to other golf sites. Includes a nice industry directory
Includes: news on the golf industry, tournament information, statistics on the tour and money rankings, as well and an equipment directory by country (US, Ireland, England, Asia, Europe, etc.).
From the National Golf Foundation, this is the official data collection tool for golf facilities to use in tracking Rounds and Revenue.
E-mail newsletter from the Golf Press Association for press releases and features pertaining to golf and the industry, compiling the headlines in a quick, easy-to-read format. Includes the Monday Industry Feature which is an introduction to someone, some place or something that is currently influencing the world of golf.
National Golf Foundation
The National Golf Foundation is the industry leader in providing relevant information and insights on the business of golf. Much of the information is not free but can be purchased for a fee. There is a catalog of publications that includes: the Golf Business Almanac, Rounds Played quarterly and annual reports, Operating and Financial Performance Profiles of Golf Facilities in the U.S. by facility or climate region, A Strategic Perspective on the Future of Golf, etc. There are also other titles that they have produced such as: Golf Industry in the U.S. : Sales & Marketing Trends (1999), The Global Dimensions of the Golf Industry (1997), Conducting Market Research : An Essential Tool for Golf Facilities (1999), etc.
International Golf Federation
Tends to focus more on the sport of golf and not the business of golf.
U.S. Golf Association
Tends to focus more on the sport of golf and not the business of golf, but includes links to state/regional and international golf associations.
Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA)
The PGA of Americas is comprised of more than 28,000 people promoting the game of golf. Includes general golf sports information as well as industry news.
The web site for the PGA Tour.
Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA)
Mostly interested in the sport and the players of the LPGA, but does have a Stats section with the ADT Money list which ranks the players in order of money earned as well as have a career money list.
National Golf Course Owners Association
Most information is for members, but does publish the magazine Golf Business.
Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
Includes information on the operation of managing a golf course and includes topic of technical interest as well as more general information. Publishes a Leadership Survey (graphs available from 1999) as well as publishing Golf Course Magazine. Some of the information may be available for members only.
Golf Business Magazine
LC Call Number: GV961.G5503
LC Catalog Record: 76206975
Online edition: http://www.golfbusinessmagazine.com/
Published by the National Golf Course Owners Association, the online edition has a searchable archive dating from 2001. Articles cover the topics of interest to golf course owners.
Kagan's the Business of Golf. Carmel, CA: Paul Kagan Associates, 2000.
LC Call Number: GV961.K34
LC Catalog Record: 2002204525
Includes a brief historical overview of the game, as well as data on the PGA, LPGA and Seniors for attendance, tour, revenue, expenses and golf of television. Other specific sections look at: Media for the PGA, LPGA, and Seniors; a look at the impact of Tiger Woods; player information; and course information.
PGA Magazine: The Official of the PGA of America. Troy, MI: Quarton Group, 1989 - present.
LC Call Number: GV961.P7
LC Catalog Records: sn 89006425 and sn 89006507
Discuss all aspects of golf the sport and golf the business. Contains graphics on to sellers of equipment, apparel, etc. as well as industry profiles on important people in the industry.
The Royal & Ancient Golfers Handbook. London: MacMillan, 1990 - present.
LC Call Number: GV961.G75
LC Catalog Record: 91641850
Included are historical information the men's Major championship, professional and amateur events for men and women, as well as a section on the government and the history of the game.
Additional works on the golf business in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish to search from the following list of Library of Congress subject headings to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search for the subject selected. Please be aware that during periods of heavy use you may encounter delays in accessing the catalog. For assistance in locating the many other subject headings which relate to golf as a business, please consult a reference librarian.