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Home HortScience Economic Impact of U.S. Golf Course Industry
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Golf courses generate significant income, jobs

GAINESVILLE, FL—Although golf is a favorite pastime for many Americans, few golfers know much about economic impact of the sport and the turfgrass industry, which plays a major part in the development and maintenance of golf courses.

The turfgrass industry is included under the category of "specialty crops", as designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Specialty crops such as turfgrass have traditionally not received the same amount of funding for economic impact studies as more traditional crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton. Little economic information on the turfgrass industry has been available on a nationwide level, so the authors of a recent study collected secondary data from several sources to develop a composite of the industry for the entire United States. 

A study published in the June 2008 issue of HortScience by researchers John J. Haydu, Alan W. Hodges, and Charles R. Hall, estimated the economic impact of the U.S. golf course industry. Results indicated that the golf sector is the largest component of the turfgrass industry, accounting for a 44% share. Other lesser components of the industry include lawn services, lawn retailing, equipment manufacturing, and sod.   

In the absence of comprehensive data on a nationwide level, many state trade associations representing specialty crops such as turfgrass initiated their own studies to document their economic impact. Using these studies, along with supplementary data, the authors were able to determine that golf courses represent a very high-value amenity use of horticultural products and services, is a major form of development, and uses large amounts of land and water. 

Results from the study indicated that the nearly 16,000 golf courses in the United States generated $33.2 billion in gross output impacts, contributed $20.6 billion in value added or net income, and generated 483,649 jobs nationwide. The study assessed data for all 50 states. The top ten states nationwide that account for the majority of economic impact based on these three factors were identified. While the top 10 states varied within each category, four states were an exception; Florida, California, Texas, and Illinois remained the top four within each variable type. Overall, the top 10 states accounted for 55% to 60% of economic impacts, while these top four states combined contributed 40% to the total. 

While focused on data relating to turfgrass, the research resulted in a comprehensive national study of the golf course industry's contribution to the U.S. economy. Impacts were presented at the state level as well. 

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The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/43/3/759

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org


This press release also available on EurekAlert!

Original Article: 

Estimating the Economic Impact of the U.S. Golf Course Industry: Challenges and Solutions
John J. Haydu, Alan. W. Hodges, and Charles R. Hall
HortScience June 1 2008: 759–763. [Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF]

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