Golf is More than a Passion, It's a Living

Golf is More than a Passion, It's a Living

To almost one million Hoosiers, golf is a relaxing pastime, a frustrating hobby, or the ultimate test of skill pitting them against the course in a futile search for perfection.

However, for over 21,000 Hoosiers, golf is how they make their living. Golf provides a significant direct benefit to the Indiana economy and for thousands of Indiana charities, it is a vital source of funding.

Such were the findings of a recent study conducted by Indiana’s leading golf associations along with Golf 20/20 and SRI International. Indiana became the 21st state to complete an Economic Impact Study on the Game of Golf during the summer of 2010. Several state associations were involved in the process. The study was commissioned by the Indiana Golf Association and the Indiana Section of the PGA. Other associations that participated in the study were the Indiana Golf Course Owner’s Association, the Indiana Golf Course Superintendents Association, the Indiana Club Managers Association and the Indiana Department of Tourism.

The Study was conducted by Golf 20/20 and SRI International. Golf 20/20 is an organization run by the World Golf Foundation and supported by all of the national leaders in the golf industry including the PGA of America, the USGA, the National Golf Course Owners Association, the PGA Tour and the LPGA.

SRI International was commissioned by Golf 20/20 to work with state and regional golf coalitions to conduct these economic impact studies around the country.

The findings of the study came as no surprise to those closely associated with the golf industry. “The Economic Impact Study validates that golf is an economic engine that contributes substantially to the momentum of the Indiana economy,” said Linda Rogers, owner of Juday Creek Golf Course in Granger, Ind. and Vice President of the National Golf Course Owners Association.

PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka concurred with Rogers’ statement. “The biggest benefit of these studies is the ability to show how golf benefits not only the 1 in 11 Americans who play, but entire communities which benefit from the jobs it creates, the green space it protects and the healthy recreation it provides for people of all ages,” said Steranka.

The need for these studies became evident in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast. The Gulf Opportunity Zone Act was passed following Katrina. The Act allocated tax benefits and relief for businesses that had been affected by Hurricane Katrina. The bill specified that tax benefits would not apply to golf courses or country clubs, lump-ing those facilities in with massage parlors, hot tub facilities, tanning salons, liquor stores and gambling establishments.

The Gulf Opportunity Zone Act highlighted the fact that the golf industry needed to coordinate efforts in order to prove how the golf industry benefits society. To date, 22 state golf economic impact studies have been conducted and the findings certainly support the fact that golf is a viable industry producing a major benefit to state’s economies.

“Studies on the state level impact of golf, such as the report for Indiana, illustrate how vital our industry is in terms of job creation, charitable contributions and environmental benefits”, said Steranka. “Golf is managed open green space which delights urban planners, a job creator which pleases mayors and governors and a model for fundraising which benefits thousands of charitable organizations,” added Steranka.

Unemployment and job opportunities have obviously been major topics of discussion on the national level. The Indiana Study showed that over 21,000 jobs in Indiana are created through the golf industry. That number nationally is over one million.

Those 21,000 jobs in Indiana account for a total wage income of $530 million.

It’s well publicized that golf and charities work hand in hand. The PGA Tour gave over $108 million to charities in 2009 alone. What many people might not realize is that PGA Professionals from around the state and around the country work almost on a daily basis to assist charitable organizations who use golf as vital annual fundraisers. The Study found that in 2008, charitable giving by the Indiana Golf Industry topped the $42 million mark. Golf course owners, operators and PGA Professionals serve as access points for annual fundraising by hundreds if not thousands local service organizations on an annual basis.

The Indiana Golf Foundation has been awarding scholarships since 1996 and has awarded nearly $300,000 in scholarship awards. The IGF kicked off a new Indiana Charities Day in 2010. With over 40 golf professionals from around the state participating in a 100 hole marathon event over $90,000 was raised for charity.

Perhaps the largest finding from the Study is the fact that golf provides $ 909 million in direct revenue to the Indiana economy.

Compare that number to other industries in the state and it paints a clear picture of how important the golf industry is to states economy. In Indiana, medical equipment manufacturing accounts for $5.8 billion to Indiana’s economy. Soybean production accounts for $2.4 billion to the economy and dairy products account for $640 million to Indiana’s economy.

“To think an acre of golf delivers more economic impact than an acre of corn in Iowa or more than an acre of residential homes in Virginia demonstrated to me how important our sport is to the business communities we live in,” said Steranka.

In the end, the findings of the Study in Indiana and nationwide are designed primarily to offset the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act and show state and national legislators the importance of golf as a viable, productive, beneficial industry across the country.

That is exactly what the state golf associations involved hope to achieve when the Indiana golf community gathers to share the results of the Study with state legislators at an April 12 event at the Indiana Statehouse.

“With the evidentiary support from the Economic Impact Study of the positive effect that golf has for Indiana through job creation, property tax generation, charitable giving, environmental stewardship and increased tourism, lawmakers will likely be more inclined to craft legislation that is favorable to the golf industry, “ said Rogers.


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