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Golf in India

Blog 22

According to the Indian Golf Union, there are currently 195 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.

The courses operated by the Indian Army are mostly accessible only to members of the armed forces, except for a few courses which are located outside of sensitive areas.

The vast majority of the golf courses operate on a “membership only” basis. Private golf courses generally allow only club members and their guests to play. Members generally pay monthly subscriptions while their guests can play on a green fee basis. However, in several golf clubs foreigners are allowed to play for a green fee even if they are not accompanied by a member. Furthermore, the approximately 7,500 lifetime members of the Indian Golf Union are allowed to play on all the golf courses by paying stipulated green fees. In contrast with the early years of golf in India, today most golfers are locals.

Courses in India are usually not part of a residential community and very rarely are an integrated component of a tourist resort. Although golf tourism is not yet promoted in India, a rather modest number of golf tourists arrive, mainly from Japan and Korea. 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.

As per the KPMG Golf Survey, 18-hole golf courses in India have approximately 1,300 members on average. This is high compared to findings for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where only four of the surveyed countries reported average memberships at 18-hole courses surpassing 1,000. However, such a high average membership in India may be explained by the fact that courses here mainly operate on a “membership only” basis, as well as by the scarce supply of 9-hole & 18-hole courses in comparison to the population size.

Average memberships at 9-hole courses are significantly lower than at 18-hole courses. It is also interesting to note that average membership at 9-hole courses in the survey was 90% individual male members, while at 18-hole courses men to the top 5 countries in Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMA) accounted for 59%. At these facilities, the share of female and junior members – 18-hole courses is significantly higher: 15% and 12% respectively. At 14%, corporate membership is higher in India than in any European country, but still lower than in the Middle East (31%).

The average number of declared playable days in India is around 336, with some courses stating all year-round playability. The average number of total rounds played at 18-hole courses is around 30,000 , while top performers exceed 60,000 rounds. With regards to the distribution of rounds at 18-hole courses, green fee rounds comprise approximately 20% of the total rounds played, while 80% of the total rounds are played by club members.

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.’

18-hole golf courses in India employ 58 persons on average, comprising 48 full-time and 10 part-time employees. However, some top-quality courses in KPMG sample employ more than 150 staff. Such a number does not differ significantly from the average for Middle East courses: 188 staff on average. The average staff size of Indian golf courses is high compared to all European regions covered in our survey, but is very similar to that of South African 18-hole golf courses. The high number of staff at Indian courses, in comparison to European ones, can be explained by the significantly lower cost of labour and the availability of work force. The average number of staff working in golf maintenance (17 full-time and 7 part-time) is also very high compared to the European average. On average, more than 15% of employees work in the food and beverage department.