KPMG study: Asia tops Europe in prize money

John Parry after winning the European Tour's Vivendi Cup.

Asia’s growth as a golf market has been documented often of late, with reports of rising golf course construction and increasing player participation.

Now, a new KPMG study provides yet another indicator that the continent’s interest in golf won’t subside anytime soon: Professional tournaments in Asia awarded 95 million euros in prize money in 2009 – surpassing the total sum disbursed by events in Europe.

The prize money, typically fueled by corporate sponsorship, reflects companies’ desire to find new consumers for their products and services. But their investment in spectator tournaments also should accelerate the sport’s popularity and development in emerging markets, the KPMG report concludes.

“The Business of Professional Tournament Golf,” published by KPMG Golf Advisory Practice based in Budapest, Hungary, is scheduled to be released at this week’s Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales.

The consulting firm’s research is based on an analysis of 32 tours operating worldwide – ranging from the PGA Tour to the Professional Golf Tour of India. Collectively, these circuits enabled more than 6,000 professional golfers to compete in events in 57 different countries and vie for total prize money of 476 million euros.

The prize money awarded in Asia accounted for 20 percent of the global total and trailed only the Americas, which was responsible for 277.6 million euros and more than a 58 percent share (U.S. events – 54 percent; rest of Americas – 4 percent). Europe was responsible for 16.3 percent, offering 77.4 million euros.

KPMG also noted that a small number of lucrative events, mostly sanctioned by the European Tour, enabled the Middle East (10.7 million euros; 2.2 percent) to eclipse the prize offerings of Africa (8.5 million euros; 1.8 percent) and Australia (6.8 million; 1.4 percent).

The expansion moves by the European Tour, perhaps, best illustrate how tournament golf itself has become a global business. Hand-in-hand with corporate partners, the tour has more than doubled the number of its events since 1979, particularly with moves into Asia and the Middle East. Of the European Tour’s 51 events in 2009, 25 were staged outside Europe’s borders.

The continuing globalization of the sport, no surprise, also is leading to a diversification of golf’s top talent. A case can be made that Americans, who often have dominated the game, no longer have a stranglehold on it: This year, three of golf’s four “majors” were won by non-Americans. Similarly, the number of U.S. players in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking declined to 16 in 2009 compared with 28 in 1990.

The likelihood of more stars emerging from different corners of the globe seems promising, according to KPMG, especially with golf’s return to the Olympics beginning with the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

New international talent, in turn, gives corporate sponsors another reason to invest in golf and its new frontiers. Though much of the golf industry’s focus has been targeted on Asia, the KPMG study sheds light on the promise of South America. It also cites the PGA Tour’s recent efforts to establish a tour in Latin America that eventually could funnel talent toward its existing circuits.

According to the KPMG study: “With three in every 10,000 people playing golf in South America and a total population of nearly 380 million, there appears to be a significant development opportunity to satisfy both local demand and international golf tourism demand.”

For more information regarding the growth of major tours, diversification of international players and sponsorship activity, download a copy of “The Business of Professional Tournament Golf” at KPMG’s site: golfbusinesscommunity.com

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