Golf continues to be an economic powerhouse delivering around $1.32 billion in environmental, social, health, and community benefits across New South Wales and the ACT annually, according to the latest Golf in NSW and the ACT Community Impact Reports.
The tri-annual studies, produced by SBP and Street Ryan, were commissioned by Golf NSW to analyse the game's influence across metropolitan and regional communities, on our ageing population, as a charitable contributor, and to the environment.
Stuart Fraser, CEO of Golf NSW, said the documents underlined how important the game is to the State's economy.
"Over the last couple of years, we have suffered through drought, fires, and floods, followed by a pandemic which has tested the resolve of not only our industry but the community more broadly.
"COVID-19 has brought many challenges, but it has also delivered opportunities too, none more so than understanding how critical our sport and our clubs are to the communities they serve," Mr Fraser said.
While many other sports were sidelined throughout 2020, golf remained accessible for all. Participation increased, evidenced by a rise in club membership of around 1.4 percent across metropolitan Sydney and 4.2 percent in regional areas.
"The mental and physical benefits the sport brought provided to many through the testing times was also very profound. Our game is thriving because it could adapt and provide a safe environment throughout the pandemic.
"This new wave of keen golfers taking to the course includes more millennials and demonstrates the inherent appeal of the game. As an industry, golf must now set its sights on raising awareness about inclusivity the game offers and allows it to be accessible by all," he explained.
For the first time, the report also analysed the environmental benefit of the sport's footprint.
Our clubs' 'green infrastructure' supports natural habitats for native birds, animals, insects, and plant life. Courses in many areas protect against flooding by regulating water movement and improve its overall quality through natural filtration systems like wetlands, dams, and ponds.
The sport continues to play a significant role in the long-term health of our ageing population. This role includes reducing the risk of chronic diseases, anxiety, and depression, as well as risks involved with physical inactivity, including type II diabetes which is especially important to those aged over 45.
"Golfers are happier, healthier, and more connected to their community than the average non-golfer as they age," Mr Fraser added.
NSW and the ACT is home to over 370 affiliated golf clubs, many of which provide essential training & employment and are vital assets to their communities. The report also found charitable contributions made through these clubs were growing significantly. The contribution made by NSW golf clubs alone is estimated at almost $30 million per year (ACT clubs provided about $8 million), with golfers themselves contributing nearly $10 million from their own pockets.
"What the sport contributes to charities and other causes across the State is essential and often done relatively unheralded.
"Most, if not all of our clubs, host charity golf days, and they often donate the green fees or course hire as a part of their contribution to the cause.
"Whether it is a cancer fundraiser or ensuring the local bush fire brigade gets much-needed funds for vital equipment, our clubs and their members are always willing to assist," Mr Fraser added.
Other key outcomes highlighted in the report include:
- Golfers across the State were 3 1/2 times more likely to volunteer within their community than the general population.
- The annual net benefit to the environment across the State was just over $91 million.
- Golf tourism provides a net benefit of over $100 million annually to the economy.
The report's findings have also been broken down regionally to highlight specific detail across New South Wales and the ACT.
Golf NSW hopes this report will consolidate awareness of the sport by quantifying the benefits it provides, not only to those directly involved but to the whole community. The insights the studies provide prove the value of our great game to NSW and the ACT.
The reports are available at the following links: