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Add Golf, Add Value

Blog 13

I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of real estate developers who are developing projects ranging from 10 Acres group housing to Mega Townships spreading over 500 Acres. It’s interesting to know that all of these real estate tycoons have one important question in common i.e. HOW GOLF CAN ADD VALUE TO OUR REAL ESTATE PROJECT?

I would like to take the opportunity to answer this interesting & important question. Before we start, it’s important to keep in mind as to what are the different options for Golf Course projects, based on land availability?

4-7 Acres: Driving Range (Practice Area) requires (50-100 m) Width X (200-300 m) Length

8-12 Acres: Driving range with 3 playing holes

15-30 Acres: 6 or 9 Hole Par 3 Executive Golf Course with Driving Range

30-50 Acres: A standard 9 Hole Golf Course with Driving Range

50-75 Acres: An international standard 9 Hole Championship Golf Course and Driving Range

75 Acres and above: several formats of 18 Hole Golf Course with Driving Range

125 Acres and above: An international standard 18 Hole Championship Golf Course and Driving Range

Based on the above, you can choose which one to go for. However, it’s advisable to consult Golf Development Advisors/ Consultants to suggest the option which would match the overall project plans to make the venture commercially viable.

Now, an overview on Golf and it economics would explain, how Golf is contributing to Worlds economy and how it can prove to be a valuable asset for the projects?

Many experts say that Golf is not just a sport; it’s an industry in itself. As a sport and as a business, Golf operates on a huge scale. Although there are no official figures, an estimated 80 million Golfers worldwide play on close to 40,000 courses across the globe. Golf events are close to $2 billion a year, and the Golf tourism market exceeding the $1 billion.

In short, Golf is a huge business which is growing despite of the financial crisis. Golf is becoming more popular in Asia as Asian consumers turn to leisure activities.

India has a much longer history associated with Golf since Royal Calcutta Golf club’s inception in 1829. According to the Indian Golf Union, there are currently 200 Golf courses and approximately 100,000 Golf club members in the country. Out of the existing facilities more than half belong to the Indian Army. Over 50% of the Golf courses are 18-hole courses, 40-45% are 9-hole facilities, while there are just a few courses in India having more than 18 holes. There are a number of championship and high-end courses, including a few designed by world famous Golf architects.

Time to understand the economics of Golf, which I like to call as GOLFONOMICS, however I later realised that there is a book named on it, by Mr. Stephen Shmanske. Anyone keen to do some more research may go ahead and order one. It’s already on my wish list!

A large number of Golf courses operate on a “membership only” basis. Private Golf courses generally allow only club members and their guests to play. Courses in India are usually not part of a residential community. However, Market trends and recent investments seem to confirm that the future growth of Golf in India could also be linked to the development of a certain number of Golf communities and Golf resorts aiming at the local market and to a certain extent to international tourism demand.

Golf course revenues comprise the following main components: membership fees, green fees, revenue from food and beverage, pro-shop, and others (e.g. sponsorship, lease income, etc).

In terms of revenue structure, two-thirds of the total revenues are generated by membership fees, with around 17% coming from green fees. Food and beverage revenues account for about 6% of the total revenues.

Locating apartments and villas alongside golf courses has helped developers to increase sales velocity and add a sales premium to pricing, premiums which can range from 5% to as much as 30%. Numerous studies have indicated that golf courses come second only to water as the most desirable amenity for a residential community, that a bit too much but still I would still agree to this.

With any new real estate project in India, there is a minimum requirement of 15-30% to be kept as green space, which is good enough to fit in any of the different options as I mentioned above. So, by this you are utilising the green space in a much better way, not only helping the adjacent real estate get more premium but also helping residents to start at Golf.

The population of India stands at 1.2 billion. The estimated population of India with a disposable annual income of more than USD 10,000 is approximately 1.5%* of the total population, resulting in a potential Golf target market of 18 million. The proportion of active Golfers from this population is 0.8%. Assuming that in the next 10 years, the proportion of active Golfers doubles to 300,000, then India would have to build between 90-100 new courses to accommodate the increased demand.*McKinsey Global Institute with KPMG elaboration.

I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Richard Haass, the President of the US Council on Foreign Relations, who has observed that the development of golf courses in a country is an indicator of prosperity and stability. “Large numbers of golf courses,” he says, “reflect the emergence of a domestic middle class, the traditional foundation of democracy. And they suggest a society where citizens not only enjoy leisure time but take basic security for granted.”

In recent years more than 65% of all newly developed golf courses have been integral parts of resort-oriented real estate projects or residential communities.

In Europe, the majority of golf real estate developments are concentrated in Western Europe, and typically marketed as second homes. On the African continent, South Africa has a significant number of golf real estate developments, and in more recent years the North African countries of Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have followed this trend, a trend which also continues in the Middle East.

In 2006, more than 150 golf real estate projects were completed in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. These projects provided 2.25 million square metres of residential space, in just over 17,000 individual villas, townhouses and apartments. In total these golf real estate developments generated Euro €18.8 billion in revenue in the EMA economy and Euro €4.9 billion to EMA GDP. The developments supported more than 120,000 jobs, paying Euro €2.6 billion in wages. The greatest impact occurs in Europe where the majority of golf real estate is built. Now India is the future for Golf Centric Real Estate Developments and the time has come for the real estate players to contribute in some way or the other to this sport, which is going to bring them exponential returns in due course of time.

I am thankful to KPMG and HSBC to carry forward such an in-depth research on Golf Development, without them it would have not been possible for me to reiterate the value of the wonderful sport called GOLF.