Gen Y Discovers Golf

June 23, 2011

amex-golf-spend-generation-june-2011.JPGGeneration Y (age 18-29) has discovered golf, as it is the only major adult generational group to have increased it golf spend between 2007 and 2011, according to [pdf] a special report on US golf spending from American Express Business Insights. Although Gen Y only makes up 1% of total golf spend, this group has increased the amount it spends on golf 27% in the past four years.

Boomers Boom on the Course Less

Meanwhile, Boomers (age 46-66), who make up 33% of the total population, still comprise the majority of golf spending (56%), although their spending declined 19% between 2007 and 2011. Gen X (age 30-45) also decreased golf spending 19% since 2007, while seniors (age 66 and older) reduced it 21% in that time period.

Gen Y YOY Spending Up Quarterly

American Express has identified several other noteworthy age-related golf spending trends:

  • With the exception of Q1 2010, Gen Y has increased YOY spending on golf each quarter since Q1 2008. By contrast, Boomers’ spending has decreased all but two quarters during the same time period.
  • Gen X comprises 23% and seniors 20% of total golf spending.
  • In Q1 2011, YOY spend growth for Gen Y was 21%, 3% for Gen X, 1% for Boomers, and -4% for seniors.

Q1 2011 Golf Spend Flat with Q1 2007

amex-golf-spend-change-june-2011.JPGQ1 2011 golf spending is essentially flat with levels recorded in Q1 2008, in the early stages of the recession, which most economists peg as having begun in Q4 2007. Golf spending was affected significantly during the recession, seeing its largest YOY decline of 18% in Q2 2009.

There was then a dramatic resurgence in Q2 2010, with close to 5% growth, followed by a decline of close to 5% in Q3 2010 and relatively flat spending in the two quarters after that.

Affluent Golf Spending Rises

amex-golf-spend-change-income-june-2011.JPGAffluent consumers (the highest 10% of spenders) increased their golf spending 4% in Q2 2008 and 7% in Q2 2010, while reducing it 2% in Q2 2009, a period which coincides with the low point of the global recession. In 2007, 31% of all golf players were affluent, a figure which rose to 37% by Q4 2010.

Meanwhile, non-affluent consumers decreased their golf spending in the second quarter of all three years, most notably a 12% decline in Q2 2009. Spending on golf by affluent consumers dropped 13% from 2008 through 2009, while non-affluent players decreased spend by 18% during this period.

From 2009 to 2010, non-affluent spending on golf decreased by 4%, while it was unchanged for affluent consumers.

Corporate Golf Spending on Upward Trend

amex-golf-spend-yoy-growth-june-2011.JPGYOY spending growth for small and large businesses in Q1 2011 was 1% and 4%, respectively. Despite modest growth during the last four quarters, between Q1 2007 and Q1 2011, small and large business spending on golf decreased 25% and 35%, respectively. The end of the recession (Q2 2009) showed the largest decrease in corporate spending, when small businesses spent 18% less and large businesses spent 30% less on golf.

Other Findings

  • The gender balance of golf spending remained flat between Q1 2007 and Q1 2010, with men representing 83% of total money spent.
  • In Q4 2009, golf retail spending on items such as apparel and equipment saw YOY growth for the first time since 2008, and in Q1 2011, this figure increased by 10%.
  • Just five states: California, Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia, account for 49% of total US golf spending.

Golf Fails to Make Par in Q3

Both average and affluent consumers, along with small businesses, stayed off the golf course as Q3 2010 spending on the sport saw an overall decrease of 4% from Q3 2009, according to previously released American Express data. This encompassed spending drops of 5% from affluent consumers and small businesses, as well as 4% from overall consumers. Meanwhile, large businesses only increased their spending on golf by 2% as compared to the same period in 2009.


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