In 2020, the French golf market has evolved, with 733 golf courses and 18 new structures under development. Although golf course revenues have fallen by 11%, reflecting the growing number of smaller structures, the golf industry remains significant, with reported sales of 1.5 billion euros and over 15,000 jobs linked to golf courses and golf tourism.

The market is dynamic, with different types of golf courses catering for different preferences, including 9-hole, 18-hole, compact and practice courses, each varying in size, construction costs and playing time. In high season, green fees for an 18-hole course can reach 64 euros at weekends, while subscriptions and training costs cater for a variety of budgets. Golf tourism remains a lucrative segment, with golf tourists spending far more than the average tourist, and French golf stays averaging 5.7 days.

The environmental aspect of golf course operations is controlled by legislation that guarantees sustainability and the preservation of biodiversity, addressing concerns about water use and the impact on ecosystems.

Golf market trends and dynamics in France

The French golf market, comprising a wide range of courses for amateurs, professionals and tourists, represents an important component of the leisure and tourism sectors. The landscape ranges from traditional 18-hole courses to compact and practice facilities, reflecting a diverse demand from players with varying levels of interest and expertise. The market has grown steadily, with the sector making a substantial contribution to the national economy, with over 7,000 direct jobs and sales accounting for a large proportion of the country's golf subsidiary.

The popularity of golf in France is reinforced by the growing number of members. The increase in the number of golfers is noteworthy, with between 400,000 and 450,000 licensees, indicating a positive trend in the practice of golf. The demographic breakdown is predominantly male, with a tendency towards the over-55s. However, golf caters for all ages, with a significant number of young golfers under 18.

The market is structured by a mix of independent courses, associations, chains and government-run facilities. Independent courses account for around half the market, underlining the vital role of small businesses in the sector. Geographically, the Paris region, Auvergne Rhône Alpes and Nouvelle Aquitaine are the biggest regions in terms of golf licensees, reflecting the importance of the sport at regional level.

In financial terms, the dynamic is marked by variable revenues depending on the size and management of the golf courses. Larger 18-hole courses tend to generate higher average sales than smaller structures, with commercial golf courses making a significant contribution to overall industry sales. The main sources of revenue for golf clubs are membership fees, subscriptions and green fees, which vary according to the business model.

Golf tourism has also become a key market segment, attracting both domestic and international visitors. Golf tourists, who tend to spend more than ordinary tourists, inject substantial revenue into the local economy. In particular, France attracts tourists from the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

From an environmental point of view, golf course operators in France are increasingly aligning themselves with ecological and sustainable development practices, underlining an evolution towards environmentally-friendly operations. The industry is now subject to regulations designed to protect biodiversity and encourage environmentally-friendly management practices.

In conclusion, the French golf market shows robust demand characterized by a wide range of consumers, from local players to international tourists. The market makes a significant contribution to the growth of the French economy.

The French golf market boasts a variety of major players who not only contribute significantly to the industry's economic strength, but also shape the experience of golfers across the country, from the casual player to the seasoned professional.

Below, we explore the key entities whose strategic positioning and offerings define the contours of the French golf scene.

  • Bluegreen: Pioneers of the golfing experience Bluegreen occupies a leading position in the market as a complete chain of golf courses. What sets Bluegreen apart is its wide range of sites, which cater for a broad spectrum of customers, from novices to hardened golfers. Its commitment to providing a tailor-made golf experience translates into well-maintained courses and customer-focused services aimed at enhancing the enjoyment of the sport for every participant.
  • UGolf: at the forefront of golf accessibility UGolf is another major chain in the industry, recognized for its concerted efforts to make golf accessible to a wider public. It manages a significant number of golf courses across the country and strives to maintain high quality standards. Its services extend beyond golf courses - UGolf's portfolio includes the management of golf-related hospitality and retail, further reinforcing its role as a versatile supplier to the industry.
  • Golfy: Champions of exclusivity and interconnectivity Golfy takes a unique approach by establishing a network that links several independent golf courses, promoting a sense of exclusivity and community among its members. This connectivity allows golfers to browse a tapestry of courses, offering diverse playing experiences under a consistent banner of quality and membership privileges.
  • Open Golf Club: the synthesis of golf and luxury Offering a blend of sport and luxury, Open Golf Club is positioned among the cultivators of high-end golf experiences. With courses often located in picturesque and sought-after locations, they focus not only on the game, but also on the ambience and amenities that surround their golf destinations. Aimed at those seeking something more refined alongside their tee time, Open Golf Club is a testament to golf's more opulent side.
  • Deauville Saint Gatien Golf Club: an independent pillar of the Normandy region
  • Amidst these chains, Deauville Saint Gatien Golf Club is a proudly independent entity, distinguished by its rich history and regional charm. Located in the heart of Normandy, this golf club invites players not only to enjoy the game, but also to immerse themselves in the spirit of the region, making it an exceptional place to play.
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  • Number of pages : 30 pages
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  • Last update : 15/02/2024
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Presentation

With 29 million cubic metres of water consumed by golf operations in 2023 to maintain their greens, the market is faced with an environmental challenge that comes at a time of post-Covid recovery.

As a business, a golf course encompasses a wide range of activities, including personnel management, administration, finance, sales, teaching and grounds maintenance. Running a golf course requires in-depth knowledge of the world of golf and the management skills needed to balance the various constraints.

In France, golf courses cover 33,000 hectares, employing around 8,000 people and welcoming members, external players (green fees) and tourists. Depending on the owner's objectives, he or she may manage the operation himself or delegate it to a third party, with associative, commercial or public management modes.

The golf operation market encompasses all facilities dedicated to the practice of this sport, for amateurs, competitors and professionals alike. Some courses, located in resorts, target golf tourism in particular, creating a synergy with the tourism sector.

The French market, relatively poorly placed on a global scale, is nonetheless in a situation of continuous growth in sales, albeit relatively stagnant, which have been maintained for some time at around 1.5 billion euros. It's also a market that benefits from an ageing population, given that the typical customer is over 55, as well as relatively high barriers to entry and competition that is strongly limited by a geographical divide. All in all, this is a relatively solid market, whose only downsides are its weakness to widespread mobility restrictions, as experienced during the pandemic, and a longer-term, but no less worrying, dynamic: the market's exposure to the depletion of water reserves and waves of drought caused by global warming.

1.2 Global market

Growth in the size of the US golf course market United States, ****-****, in $ billions Source: ****

Over the past decade, the US golf farm market has maintained apparent stability, growing slightly until ****, peaking at $**.** billion. Since then, despite some fluctuations, the sector has maintained a stable overall trend, with a slight ...

1.2 The national golf market

Trend in the size of the French sports facility management market France, ****-****, € billion Source: ****

From **** to ****, the French market for sports facility management activities fluctuated. In ****, sales were €*.*** billion, peaking in **** at €*.*** billion. The pandemic led to a drop in **** to *.*** billion euros, but a recovery was seen in **** to ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Typology of demand

Licensees by gender France, **** Source: ****

In ****, the distribution of golf licensees in France highlights a significant disparity between the sexes, with a clear predominance of men, representing **% of licensees compared with just **% for women. This disproportion can have direct implications for the profitability of golf clubs, as a more diverse membership ...

2.2 Golf trends in France

FFG licensees

The number of members of the French Golf Federation has been growing steadily since ****, after a period of sharp decline between **** and ****. In ****, there were ***,*** licensees, up +*.*% on ****.

Growth in the number of golf licenses issued annually France, ****-****, in € millions Source: ****

Between **** and ****, the number of annual golf ...

2.3 The rise of golf tourism

Golf tourist expenses France, ****, in € Source: ****

In ****, France welcomed ***,*** golf tourists, **% of whom were foreign. The expenditure of a golfing tourist, +**% higher than that of a traditional tourist, makes this consumer a key point of demand. The average golfing tourist spent €*** on accommodation, €*** on transport, €*** on catering and €** on related ...

2.4 The cyclical nature of consumer demand

Evolution of interest in "Golf" research France, ****-**** Source: ****

The evolution of the "Golf" search on Google Trends in France shows a cyclical pattern linked to seasonality. Peak interest in August coincides with the summer golfing season. However, in April ****, a notable exception was observed, marked by a drop due to ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Value chain

*Operations may be carried out by third parties under contract with the club

3.2 Golf clubs in France

Existing golf courses by management method France, ****, as % of total Source: ****

In France in ****, the breakdown of existing golf courses by management mode shows a predominance of independent golf courses, accounting for half of the total. Associative golfs follow with **%, followed by chain golfs with **%, and finally governed golfs with *%.Existing ...

3.3 Financial structure of the business

In ****, the average annual turnover of a golf course in France reached *** k€, down -**% between **** and ****. This decline in average sales is not, however, a sign of the poor health of golf courses in France, but rather the result of the increase in the number of smaller structures with lower ...

3.4 Employment in the golf industry

In ****, the golf industry accounted for over **,*** jobs in France (***), including around **,*** direct jobs. There were *** establishments in ****.

Jobs in the golf industry France, **** Source: ****

In ****, the golf industry in France generated a total of **,*** jobs spread across various categories. Golf courses account for the bulk of these jobs with *,*** positions, ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Products and offer diversification

There are different types of golf course, classified according to size:

* holes, ** holes (***). Practice : a driving range is a practice area without holes or a course. Compact : the main aim of compact golf courses is to make them more accessible than larger courses. They are often located on the outskirts ...

4.2 Golfing costs

The cost of playing golf varies greatly according to a number of criteria: seasonality, location, golf course size, management style... Below is a comparative table of practice fees (***):

Source: ****

In addition, here are the rates applied by the French Golf Federation for licenses in ****:

Adult license (***): €** Young Adult license (***): €** Youth (***): €** Child ...

4.3 Golf operating modes

The different operating statuses of golf courses

There are several ways of operating a golf course, depending on a number of criteria:

Direct operation : the owner (***). Délégation de service public (***). Depending on the type of contract, the operator is more or less involved. Public operating contract: this is a ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Administrative arrangements

Operating a golf course requires a complex administrative and regulatory process before it can be completed and opened.

The main regulatory points to be complied with are as follows:

Land conformity: on the site, the texts concerned are either the carte communale, the plan d'occupation des sols or the plan local ...

5.2 The environmental issue

Another important issue for the French golf operator market today is their ability to deal with environmental issues. For a long time, they have been accused of poor environmental practices, notably in terms of water consumption (***) and insufficient respect for biodiversity.

For this reason, a legislative framework governs the construction of ...

List of charts

  • Breakdown of the 1.5 billion in sales generated by the golf economy
  • Trends in the size of the French sports facility management market
  • Trends in the size of the French golf market
  • Members by gender
  • Members by age and gender
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Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Open Golf Club
Sud France Golf
Golf de Fontainebleau
Golf de Deauville Saint-Gatien
Golf de Villeneuve-sur-Lot
Golf de Chantilly
Lolivarie Golf Club
Golf de Carcassonne
Golf de Saint-Germain

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