Fáilte Ireland revealed that, in addition to the bag of clubs, golfing tourists who come to Ireland also pack their wallets, typically pouring €1,200 into the economy — two-and-a- half times the spend of the average tourist.
This data means the golf sector provides a total overseas spend of €202m for the economy, with 163,000 people playing golf while in Ireland last year.
The figures also indicate that the golf tourism sector typically results in repeat visitors.
Satisfaction among golf tourists is rated at 94%, while 83% said their trip to Ireland represented value for money.
Fáilte Ireland is now looking at capitalising on the idea of “playcations” in advance of the staging of the Irish Open next month.
The research also indicated that golfing tourists are much more likely to be repeat visitors, and that golf tourists from North America are the biggest spenders, with an average per capita spend of about €1,800.
In general, people coming from overseas to play golf in Ireland are overwhelmingly male and affluent, with 90% being men and belonging to the affluent white-collar ABC1 socio-economic group.
That is reflected in the average age profile — 93% of golfers are over 35 years old, with half aged between 45 and 64 years old. The research shows 44% of golf visitors come here with friends, while 28% travel here as part of a couple, with North Americans and mainland Europeans more likely to travel in groups of peers, and British golfers more likely to travel with a spouse or partner.
The research also shows 21% of expenditure by golf tourists is spent on green fees or other golf-related costs, with the remainder spent on areas such as accommodation, attractions, bars, and restaurants.
Golf tourism has outperformed the general market, averaging 6% growth each year between 2009 and 2012 and, among those surveyed, 90% described golf as an “important” part of their holiday choice and more than 60% said golf was “extremely important” in their choice of holiday.
Michael Ring, the sport and tourism junior minister, said the Government would look at ways it could increase tourist revenue from the golf sector.
“Ireland has some fantastic golf courses but we want to be the best in the world,” he said.
“That’s why we have been working hard to raise standards even higher within the golf sector, and ensure that every single golfer who comes to Ireland has an outstanding experience. The findings show that we are getting results.
“Fáilte Ireland is working closely with the golf sector to build further on our success rate.”
The next showcase for Ireland’s golfing sector is the Irish Open, which takes place from Jun 27-30 at Carton House, Kildare.