Is Golf an Economic Barometer?
By mustang6560 on 10/31/11
Is golf an economic barometer? Greg Norman thinks so. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal over a bottle of Greg Norman 2008 Cabernet Merlot, the Shark elaborated on his theory.
Mr. Norman is particularly bullish on South America: Golf, he said, is a useful barometer of a region's health. "My golf-course-design company is really a very good economic indicator," he said. "If we get 15 calls from a region we'll say, 'What's going on there?' People won't spend $15 [million] to $16 million on a golf course unless they're putting money into the community."
It makes perfect sense. Golf is a luxury game, so while golf's governing bodies are always experimenting with new ways to grow the game, at the end of the day you have to spend more money to play golf than most other sports.

Take soccer for example, the most popular game in the world. All you really need to get a pick up game is a soccer ball and an open field. If you have a goal with a net - great. If you don't, you can just make a goal with a couple cones or a pair of extra shoes. Golf on the other hand, you need clubs, balls and a bag to get started and then you have to have access to a golf course. And according to Greg, that's where golf has value as an economic indicator.

If an economy is healthy, it can afford to spend the money and land resources to build a golf course. First, you need several tens of acres of land to build a golf course that could possibly be used for something else like farmland. Second, you need the money to actually convert the land to a playable golf course and that's not to mention the yearly operating capital required to maintain the course after it's built.

Obviously, you couldn't rely solely on the Golf Course Index (hopefully I just coined the term) to judge the economic health of a country. But maybe it could be an informal indicator like the "Big Mac Index".

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photo by Richard Carter

[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
My father and I used to subscribe to the "Golf Ball" index for analyzing the economy. He lived at a high-end golf community with a TPC course. We would periodically troll the water hazard near his condo. If our catch included a high number of Pro V's, Nike One's, etc ..., it indicated an improving economy. Lots of well used Top Flites and Pinnacles signaled recession.

I guess Greg's idea has some merit, too. My brother works for a major oil company and he has been spending a lot of time in Brazil. Can North Dakota be far behind?
Kurt the Knife says:

10 buck chuck
jev says:
For playing golf, all you need is a club and a ball. Why do you need a course? It's not as if you can play soccer on a competitive basis if you do not have a proper field with lines and goals.

There still are areas out there in the big wide world where you could very cheaply start a golfcourse. As long as property is cheap there isn't much added cost to even build something that closely resembles the golf course that you and me know so well. The Scottish used the cheapest ground available that was unusable for building houses on as farmland and used that to play on. You prolly can't even create a soccer-field in those areas without spending serious money.

What is even more weird is that Greg Norman says this. In Australia, farmland is cheap. You could create a golf course there on very cheap property. Perhaps he didn't mean "golf courses" but "golf & country clubs". His "golf-course-design company" of course won't be called on to create a simple golfcourse in the outback...
wrhall02 says:
Of course it is...pretty much any luxury item can be used as an economic barometer. When Demand for anything expensive duh...

I like @bkuehn's "golf ball" index. To me it is far more relevant and easily applied.
larrynjr says:

"10 buck chuck" Where I'm at we call it 3 buck chuck.........for my friend in Portland, Or. it's 2 buck chuck
Kurt the Knife says:
Can't find GN wines for under 10 bux.
I appreciate his winemaking efforts...just not so much as our friends up the valley.

Now, central valley wines? oh yeah, 2 buk chuck.
[ post comment ]
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