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Economic driver: How golf is worth £1bn a year to Scotland

The game of golf is a £1 billion industry in its Scottish home and employs more than 20,000 people, according to new research.

SWING KING: Tiger Woods watches his approach shot on the 17th hole at Turnberry during round one of the 2009 Open Championship on the Ailsa Course. Picture: Getty
SWING KING: Tiger Woods watches his approach shot on the 17th hole at Turnberry during round one of the 2009 Open Championship on the Ailsa Course. Picture: Getty

It finds that one in every 125 jobs in the country is dependent on golf and it accounts for wage payments of £300 million a year.

Meanwhile it generates £1.17bn in revenues, including direct, indirect and induced effects which together include everything from green fees and drinks bought at the 19th hole to the companies supplying pro shops.

The research has been conducted by KPMG in association with Oxford Economics and the figures are likely to increase with next year's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

It concludes that once costs are taken into account, golf directly contributes £496 million to Scotland's gross domestic product (GDP) annually, equivalent to 0.4% of the country's total economic output.

While Scotland is known worldwide as the home of golf, it is the first time the value of the sport to the country has been measured in this way.

The Value of Golf to Scotland's Economy report, commissioned by the Scottish Golf Union in conjunction with VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, was published at the KPMG Golf Business Forum in St Andrews.

Hamish Grey, chief executive of the Scottish Golf Union, said: "This report clearly demonstrates the significant value of golf to Scotland's economy. Comparing it to other industries, we can now see for the first time that, for example, golf's direct contribution to GDP is 89% that of fishing and fish farming, and 83% of air transport."

He said the report provided credible data for all interested in Scottish golf to work from. A complementary study of the social impact of golf in Scotland was also being developed and would be finalised later this summer.

Andrea Sartori, head of KPMG's golf advisory practice, said: "This research will empower decision-makers and help them make policy and investment decisions accordingly."

He said many of the inter-national delegates at this week's Golf Business Forum had come to St Andrews specifically to learn more about golf in Scotland as it was seen not only as a world-class golf destination, but a world leader in the golf business.

Dr Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, added: "Golf is a hugely important contributor to the economy of Scotland, and tourism in particular.

"With a number of major golf events on the horizon in Scotland, it was important to understand the scale of the industry as a whole, in order that we continue to build and grow the industry in future."

The report focuses on six sectors of the golf industry – golf facility operations, golf course capital investments, golf supplies, golf tournaments and endorsements, golf tourism and golf real estate – and is based on 2011 data.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is expected back in Scotland this week to spell out his ambitious plans for a second championship course at his £750m Aberdeenshire golf resort which he plans to name the Mary MacLeod course after his late Scottish mother.

Other Key Findings

l There are more than 600 golf facilities in Scotland, of which 597 are golf courses.

l Golf facilities support more than 12,300 jobs.

l Golf facilities generated annual revenues of £582 million.

l One-third of green-fee payers came from outside Scotland – 57% from the rest of the UK, 19% from Europe, and 17% from North America.

l In 2011, golf tournaments and endorsements generated revenues of £46m but the Open was not played in Scotland that year. The R&A forecasts the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield will bring an economic benefit of £70m to East Lothian and Edinburgh.

l Scottish Enterprise estimates the total economic impact of golf tourism in Scotland to be £220m a year.

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