The R&A - Working for Golf

Spend on Golf contributes €540m to Irish economy

  • New report by Sports Industry Research Centre presents golf’s economic value to Ireland
  • Over €540m spent on golf annually in Ireland
  • Golf provides direct employment for over 9,000 people
  • Participation equates to nearly 385,000 adults playing golf at least once per year

Consumer spending on golf in the Republic of Ireland alone is now worth €379m million annually, according to a new report commissioned by the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) and The R&A.

The report, ‘A Satellite Account for Golf in the Republic of Ireland’ was conducted to evaluate golf's economic value to the Republic of Ireland and found that the top three elements of this consumer spending are €94 million on club membership fees, €46 million on food and beverage in clubs and €39 million on golf equipment.

A similar report was published in 2016, which detailed the contribution golf made to the economy of the United Kingdom. Today’s report considers the impact of golf in the Republic of Ireland. These figures when taken in conjunction with the previous findings, provide an overall figure for the island of Ireland.

Carried out by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, the research also shows that 9,030 people are directly employed within the golf sector on the island of Ireland, with 6,800 of these in the Republic. Golf clubs are the most significant employers (34%), followed by the golf equipment and sportswear sectors (13%) and the tourism and accommodation industries (11%).

These employment levels equate to the golf industry being responsible for 0.3% of total employment in the Republic of Ireland – the equivalent of one in 300 jobs.

Meanwhile, the Gross Value Added (GVA) of the golf industry in the Republic of Ireland was €202 million, which equates to 0.1% of the entire Irish economy. The major contributors to golf's GVA are the activities of golf clubs, including food and beverage operations and recreational golf, at €89m (44%).

The GVA analysis also highlights golf’s important association with the golf equipment, clothing and footwear sectors (€21m), tourism and accommodation in golf resorts (€25m) and the construction and real estate industries (€15m).

There are 281,000 adult golfers in the Republic of Ireland (103,000 in Northern Ireland), of whom 160,000 play the sport at least once every four weeks. Figures show that the golf participation rates in the Republic of Ireland are higher than the UK as a whole, with 7.9% of the Irish population participating in golf on an annual basis compared with a 7.4% participation rate in the UK.

‘A Satellite Account for Golf in the Republic of Ireland’ also found that:

  • Based on a combination of the participation and club membership data, it can be concluded that 4.7% of the adult population in the Republic of Ireland are members of a golf club. This is nearly one in every 20 adults, and compares favourably with England where the corresponding figure is close to one in 100 adults
  • Consumer spend per adult golfer in the Republic of Ireland reaches an average of €1,350 per annum
  • Golf is responsible for 0.4% of the Republic of Ireland’s total consumer spending and 17% of consumer spending on sport
  • Golf contributes €93 million to the public sector in corporation tax and VAT. Given the size of the golf economy and the relatively low corporation tax rate, this is a significant contribution to public finances

Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Golf Development at The R&A said: “This is an important piece of research which highlights the substantial contribution that golf makes to the economy of the Republic of Ireland. Clearly golf’s popularity from a tourism and club perspective, as well as the quality and range of courses available, are key factors in this success but we should remember that golf is also an important provider of employment. The report will give us a useful benchmark from which to measure the sport’s growth in future.”

Redmond O’Donoghue, Chairman of the Confederation of Golf in Ireland, said: "We commissioned this piece of research because, for too long, we lacked specificity with regard to the economic impact that our sport makes in the wider Irish community. This study proves that golf plays a far more important role in our economy than many would have expected. We plan to use this study to underpin our arguments for greater support for the game of golf from both the public and the private sectors. It is quite clear now that golf, as well as being a healthy and enjoyable activity, makes a significant contribution to the economy "

Professor Simon Shibli, Head of SIRC and author of the report, says: “Golf in the Republic of Ireland is more than just a sport.  Our research demonstrates that it makes a measurable contribution to the nation's economy and that golf clubs play an important role in the social fabric of their local communities.  The current macro-economic conditions in the Republic of Ireland present an ideal opportunity for the nation's golf industry to grow in future years.”

Download the CGI Report Economic Impact report.