Editor's Note: In an effort to bring a diverse array of opinions and perspectives to Newsmax's A Golfer's Life, we are actively seeking contributions from industry leaders and newsmakers from the world of golf. The following column has been submitted by Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation. Mona has been ranked as one of Golf Inc.'s "Most Powerful People in Golf" for the past 14 years, and in 2014 he placed higher on the list than Tiger Woods.
Golf's global impact is making significant strides in 2015.
To showcase the game on a universal stage, two major team-based events will occur in the next two months — The 2015 Solheim Cup kicks off September 18-20, hosted in St. Leon-Rot, Germany, followed by The Presidents Cup October 8-11 in Incheon City, Korea.
Each tournament features the world’s best golfers and occurs every two years, alternating between U.S. and foreign countries.
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This is the first time Germany will host The Solheim Cup, which was first played in 1990. According to KPMG, Germany boasts the highest female participation rate in Europe. A 2011 report notes Germany has more than 610,000 golfers (up nearly 2 percent from 2010) and 700-plus golf courses.
For The Presidents Cup, this marks the first time the tournament has been held in Asia. As the hottest continent for growth of the game in recent years, Asia is home to 4,778 golf courses with 92 facilities under construction and another 112 in planning (or 30 percent of the entire world’s golf projects).
Nick Price (International) and Jay Haas (U.S.) will be serving as The Presidents Cup team captains. The duo left their mark in Washington, D.C. earlier this year, helping to promote “National Golf Day” on Capitol Hill in April.
As the sports world prepares for these two tournaments, let's take a look at some of golf's figures around the world.
Since its emergence as a major spectator sport, golf has provided lifelong recreational opportunities and enjoyment to millions.
The R&A, one of golf’s governing bodies, released a report earlier this year (based on 2014 data) stating there are 34,011 golf facilities in 206 countries across the globe. More than 70 percent of courses are accessible to the public.
The 2013 Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club near Denver had more than 120,000 fans in attendance and pumped $20 million into the local economy. It brought tremendous exposure to the region and women’s golf with 74 hours of coverage on the Golf Channel, reaching 74 million households worldwide. In addition, the event created nearly 1,000 full and part-time jobs for local residents.
When The Presidents Cup was held at Muirfield Village near Columbus, Ohio, in 2013, it brought a $22 million economic impact to the region with attendance north of 150,000. This was a 67-percent increase from 2009.
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With 567 registered media representing 167 outlets, more than 18,000 articles about The Presidents Cup helped spread awareness for the game worldwide.
Golf in the States
How does the U.S. stand up to the rest of the world?
In 2014, golf in America had an estimated 25 million participants and 15,350 facilities (or 45 percent of the world’s total supply).
Annually, the golf industry creates a nearly $70 billion economic impact in the U.S., supporting nearly 2 million jobs as well as $55.6 billion in annual wage income. One of 75 full or part-time jobs in the U.S. is in the golf industry. With American golfers playing more than 465 million rounds per year, golf is healthy and many industry segments are experiencing success.
The game also provides an annual charitable impact of about $4 billion per year through 143,000 events and 12 million participants. To put this in perspective, golf raises more money for charity than the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL combined.
With three of golf's majors hosted at public golf courses this year, accessibility is evident, with nine out of 10 golfers playing at public facilities in the U.S. In fact, the median green fee across America is only $26.
Lastly, sustainability is a big topic in America. Golf courses provide significant environmental benefits to local communities and account for more than two million acres of green space in the U.S.
For the first time in more than a century, golf is returning to the Olympics next summer, featuring both men's and women's events. Hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, worldwide visibility is expected to increase awareness of and participation in the game. The last time golf was a part of the Olympic Games was in 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Regarding golf's Olympic format, a maximum of four players per country can qualify for the Olympic team. As it stands today for the U.S., those four would be Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, and Dustin Johnson. Of course, this list is likely to change by August 2016.
Golf becoming an Olympic sport will have a tremendous worldwide impact, particularly in countries in the developmental stages of golf. The global golf industry anticipates inclusion in the Olympics will lead to additional resources being directed to developmental golf programs by their respective governments, national Olympic committees and golf federations. In turn, this will accelerate the growth of the game internationally.
Such growth will lead to further investment and sponsorship of golf programs and organizations to help foster “the Olympic dream.”
The International Golf Federation (IGF), which is recognized by the IOC as the official international federation for golf, comprises 131 National Federation members from 126 countries. This number continues to grow, highlighting the game’s potential for growth and investment.
2016 Olympic host Brazil represents a tremendous opportunity for the game’s growth. As the world’s fifth-leading economy, it is currently home to 100 golf courses and 14,000 golfers. In early 2012, the most extensive junior program in the history of Brazilian golf was launched by the Brazilian Golf Federation with support from The R&A and Brazilian Olympic Committee. Its goal is to introduce the game to thousands of young players between the ages of 7 and 14.
Ultimately, golf has a lot to be excited about in the near future. With The Solheim Cup and Presidents Cup in our sights and the Olympics in the not-so-distant future, the industry is heading into an exciting chapter of its storied history. New stars are engaging fresh audiences, and the game has much to be excited about in the next few months.
About Steve Mona
Steve Mona became the World Golf Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in March 2008. Mona served as tournament director of the Northern California Golf Association from September 1980 to January 1982. He moved to assistant manager of press relations for the United States Golf Association from January 1982 to June 1983, at which time he became executive director of the Georgia State Golf Association. In November 1993, he became CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
In 2014, Steve was named to Golf Inc.'s "Most Powerful People in Golf" for the 14th consecutive year.
World Golf Foundation develops and supports initiatives that positively impact lives through the game of golf and its traditional values. Founded in 1993, The Foundation is supported by major international golf organizations and professional Tours, and provides oversight to World Golf Hall of Fame, The First Tee, GOLF 20/20, and other industry initiatives in support of its mission.
More information: www.worldgolffoundation.org
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