Consumers spend €540m a year on golf in Ireland, research shows

Report finds that golf chips in €93m in VAT and corporation tax receipts to exchequer

Some €540 million is spent on golf annually in Ireland with 9,030 people employed in the sector on both sides of the Border, according to new research. This includes €379 million in consumer spending in the Republic and €161 million in Northern Ireland from both local golfers and overseas visitors. About 6,800 jobs are supported in the Republic and 2,230 in the North.

This is the first report to quantify the economic contribution of golf to the economy on the island. It was commissioned by the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) and the R&A, which organises the Open Championship in Britain each year and has a key role in governing the sport globally.

The report found that the exchequer tax take in the Republic amounts to €93 million a year. This comprises Vat and corporation tax.

The gross value added (GVA) of the golf industry in the Republic of Ireland was €202 million, which equates to 0.1 per cent of the entire Irish economy. GVA is a measure of the value of goods and services produced in a sector of the economy.


The major contributors to golf’s GVA are the activities of golf clubs, including food and beverage operations and recreational golf, at €89 million.

The GVA analysis showed that golf equipment, clothing and footwear sectors came in at €21 million, tourism and accommodation in golf resorts at €25 million, and the construction and real estate industries at €15 million.

Club membership

Called A Satellite Account for Golf in the Republic of Ireland, the report found that some €94 million was spent on club membership, €46 million on food and beverages in clubs, and €39 million on golf equipment.

This work was carried out by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University and will be launched in Dublin on Monday.

It found that golf clubs were the most significant employers at 34 per cent of those working in the sector, followed by the golf equipment and sportswear sectors at 13 per cent, and the tourism and accommodation industries at 11 per cent.

It said the golf industry was responsible for 0.3 per cent of total employment in the Republic, which is the equivalent of one in 300 jobs.

The report also noted that consumer spending per adult golfer in the Republic reached an average of €1,350 per annum. Golf is responsible for 0.4 per cent of the Republic’s total consumer spending and 17 per cent of spending on sport.

“This study proves that golf plays a far more important role in our economy than many would have expected,” said Redmond O’Donoghue, chairman of CGI. “We plan to use this study to underpin our arguments for greater support for the game of golf from both the public and the private sectors. It is quite clear now that golf, as well as being a healthy and enjoyable activity, makes a significant contribution to the economy.”

Prof Simon Shibli, the report's author, described golf as more than just a sport in Ireland.

“Our research demonstrates that it makes a measurable contribution to the nation’s economy and that golf clubs play an important role in the social fabric of their local communities,” he said. “The current [positive] macro-economic conditions in the Republic present an ideal opportunity for the nation’s golf industry to grow in future years.”

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times