Golf Gets Boost from Real Estate and Tourism Boom
In this decade (since 2011), the disposable income of Indians has been quite high and – with World Bank forecasting the country’s GDP growth at 7.3% for 2018-19 – it isn’t likely to reduce. Demand for quality leisure and recreation activities is growing too and golf is benefiting from not only the demand for recreation facilities but also from the real estate and tourism boom.
Sports fans can now look forward to a greater number of facilities being available to learn and play golf than ever before. We should have more new golf courses opening in the next five years than in the past 50.
How far do we need to go before we can really satisfy the demand for quality golf facilities? Industry statistics are hard to come by in India, but the world’s largest golf economy USA has some astounding figures. According to the statistics portal Statista, the top four golf equipment and apparel companies Acushnet, TaylorMade, Callaway and Nike, who together account for nearly 65% of equipment sales in USA enjoyed combined revenues of close to $4.1 billion in 2016. That isn’t surprising when one realises that North America accounts for 54% of world golf supply!
Furthermore – as of 2017, USA accounts for nearly 85% of all golf facilities in North and Central America. And that’s not all. 77% of the facilities are open to public. This is the most important figure that India must pay special attention to. Public facilities encourage people to take up the game more effectively than any other type of course. On that note, one must also laud the United States Golf Association’s (USGA) commitment to staging the men’s US Open (one of golf’s four Majors) on public courses. 10 of the 18 Opens since 1999 have been staged at public venues. The mantra is simple: to grow the game and encourage following, one mustn’t stifle audiences.
While the numbers in India won’t be as overwhelming as America’s, there is immense scope. As of 2017, there were a total of 35-40 residential real estate golf centric projects across India. These golf courses were part of premium townships developed by prominent real estate developers i.e. Jaypee Wish Town, Vooty Golf County, ATS Mohali, Supertech Greater Noida, etc. Residential real estate developers are seeking to develop amenities to attract new home buyers and golf is a key amenity in several parts of the country especially in cities including Gurgaon, Noida, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Ahmedabad etc.
Therefore, with golf courses spreading across the country, the time has never been better to promote the sport as a niche tourism product. The abundance of natural beauty, no dearth of land availability and – perhaps most exciting – the buzz around Indian professional golf (thanks to the exploits of Shubhankar Sharma, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Ajeetesh Sandhu, SSP Chawrasia, Anirban Lahiri and Aditi Ashok, besides others) offer enough reason to be proactively involved in the sport.
Key golf-based real estate projects include The Belvedre Ahmedabad, Blue Ridge Pune, Eagleton Golf Village Mysore, Greenbay Golf Village Yamuna Expressway Greater Noida, Kensville Ahmedabad, etc.
Golf tourism is definitely on the rise and promises to grow further. In India, about 220 golf courses, in which 20+ are signature golf courses which are at par with international standards attracts various level of tourists.
One such property is the nine-acre large Jaypee Greens Golf and Spa Resort, located on the outskirts of the national capital. Designed by veteran golfer Greg Norman, the resort promises some of the most stunning views of the beautiful 18-hole golf course. It attracts many foreign tourists who love to spend their time by playing golf along with dining.
To promote golf culture and attract tourists, over 100 new golf courses and driving ranges are required in the country. It will not only help attract tourists and generate revenue for the owners, but also open new job opportunities for the youth.
With the growing popularity of the sport – golf enthusiasts are looking forward to visiting India for a holiday that goes beyond tees and greens.
If promoted correctly and if clubs really adopt tourist friendly policies, we will easily be able to attract more tourists – both domestic and international. Bringing in a real estate angle, the presence of and development of more golf courses in clusters will attract tourists because when golfers travel, they look for destinations with at least 3-4 world class golf courses located within an hour’s drive of each other and close to classy hotels, restaurants and shops. If we build one lone golf course in an isolated destination, it will not work – one has to build facilities in clusters. This principle and preference has been demonstrated time and time again all over the world.
All said, with the right promotion, planning, marketing and small improvements at the courses, we can attract thousands of golf tourists as we already have world-class infrastructure in place.
Statistics also reveal how the emphasis in India’s future should be on training professional golfers who work with common/recreational golfers at club level – this customer base will keep the golf courses busy and the equipment manufacturers sales healthy.
This bottom-up approach is a must. In fact, such programs would be highly effective in developing any sport in the country!
- By, Rishi Narain, MD, RN Sports, Marketing and Board Member, Golf Industry Association