Golf is global.
There are golf courses in 209 of the world’s 249 countries as of year-end 2018, according to the latest “Golf Around the World” report published by the R&A and based on in-depth research from the National Golf Foundation. The report explores the game’s global reach as seen through the worldwide supply of golf courses, both existing and under development.
The R&A issues the report to its members around the world and frequently uses the content in presentations, conferences and speeches when addressing global supply and development trends.
The report details 38,864 golf courses around the world, an inventory that was developed and is maintained by the NGF. The R&A study also takes a deeper look at the context of history, economic development and political decision-making when it comes to golf courses and delves into trends in six worldwide regions, such as the emergence of Vietnam as a major market and how courses are used as an engine for local development in countries such as Argentina, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
While 84% of the countries in the world have at least one course, the game remains geographically concentrated. The top 10 golfing countries — the United States, Japan, Canada, England, Australia, German, France, South Korea, Sweden and Scotland — are home to 78% of the world supply. That percentage is up from 74% from 2017, when the report was last published.
Still, there are golf courses everywhere from Antarctica (1) to Zimbabwe (38).
The U.S. is by far the best-supplied market in the world, with upwards of 16,500 golf courses at over 14,500 facilities. Japan is next on the list with 3,169 golf courses. North and South America combined are home to 50% of the world’s supply of courses, including 43% in the U.S. alone. Europe has the second-largest regional share at 23%, followed by Asia at 16%.
While the sport has long been associated with private clubs where play is restricted to members, the R&A’s report shows that 75% of courses are publicly accessible in some form.
There are 534 new golf course projects – as measured in 18-hole equivalents – currently underway worldwide across 101 countries, evidence of the game’s continued expansion. Whether under construction or in advanced planning, about 64% of emerging golf course projects are affiliated with resort developments. Europe and Asia lead the way in courses under development. Notably, Vietnam has 78 current courses and another 43 in different stages of development.
The R&A’s Golf Around the World report offers a comprehensive look at the number of courses, facilities and holes in the top 20 countries. It also details course supply in individual countries.
To download a digital copy of the report, click here.
Any golf businesses that are interested in accessing the NGF’s database of global golf courses, whether for communication or business development purposes, should contact NGF Chief Business Officer Greg Nathan at gnathan.ngf@org.
The NGF is widely regarded as the foremost authority in the golf business for data, research and consulting. The foundation serves members across every sector in the golf industry, with an expertise that includes market intelligence in golf participation, consumer behavior, course operations, facility development, travel, retail, consumer confidence and more.