Golf is available around the globe, and according to a recent R & A survey, there were 33,161 golf facilities in 208 of the world’s 245 countries.
The majority of the worldwide supply is located in the western hemisphere. North and South America are home to 55% of world supply; The U.S. alone claims 45% of the world’s total courses.
Europe has the second largest regional share with 22% of the world’s total, followed by Asia with 14% and Oceania with 6%.
With 60% of the world’s population on 31% of the earth’s landmass, Asia is home to 4,570 golf facilities, representing 14% of the total count.
Thailand Has 250 Courses
Here in Thailand, there are around 250 golf courses, mostly privately owned across the country. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand golf vacations are the fourth largest contributor to the country’s tourism income. So, golf is a big player and employs thousands of Thais ranging from clubhouse staff, maintenance crews and over 30,000 caddies.
Apparently at the end of 2019 Asia had 32% of all new golf course undertakings worldwide amounting to 176 new projects. But that’s all changed big time, and since the COVID-19 Pandemic, many have been delayed or have stopped construction. Here in Thailand, there is a premier league of golf clubs that have first-class facilities, and cater to locals, expats, and appeal to the golf vacationer.
They, with prudent cutbacks, are likely to survive, even if their income for 2020 will come from locally based players. However, if you are a country course, the tour operators are unlikely to include you on their customers’ itineraries. Golf vacationers like to mainly play the best 18 holes, and then enjoy the 5-star hotels in Thailand’s top resorts and cities.
How Many Will Survive?
This means many 2nd and 3rd division golf facilities will struggle to make ends meet. They, like the leading clubs, still have large upkeep costs in maintaining 18 holes and will have staff bills to pay as well. Some courses in holiday locations may be snapped up by savvy investors, with funds to upgrade the course and clubhouse. But many, especially privately owned, my find the only option is to sell the land for development or to just shut the doors and let the grass grow.