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Plymouth, Michigan


What did they spend at the course today?

Golfers were queried about their purchases at the golf course to determine the full impact of their presence. The total daily expenditure averaged $83.49. When further broken down into more basic categories, the average daily expense incurred for green fees and cart fees was $62.21, which represents 74.5 percent of the total course-related expenditures. This compares favorably to 70.1 percent, a figure developed from NGF and proprietary data on daily-fee courses in Michigan. Furthermore, the typical respondent spent some $14.45 on food and beverages on the course and in the clubhouse, (17.3 percent), and $6.83 or 8.2 percent on pro shop purchases including merchandise, range balls, and golf instruction. The comparable figures previously published for all Michigan daily-fee courses are 14.0 percent and 15.9 percent respectively.

Expenditures away from the Course

On average, fully 60 percent of the respondents - or three out of every five interviewed - spend at least one night away from home in association with their round(s) of golf. It must be noted that there is a tremendous disparity for this statistic when comparing golfers at one course to those at another. For example, golfers at the Boyne Resort were far more likely to be on an extended stay than those playing a course such as Timber Ridge. The implications of this phenomenon are that: individual operators, depending upon geographical location, are faced with different opportunities in regard to golf vacations; and the sample statistic of 60 percent may well overstate the typical golfer's propensity to stay overnight. The reasoning behind this overly optimistic estimate is that the sample members were solicited primarily from courses and resorts which are traditionally patronized by vacation-oriented golfers. The availability of local facilities will have a significant impact on whether or not golfers do stay overnight.

For those golfers who indicated that their round of golf included one or more nights away from their primary residence, the average number of nights spent away from home was 2.61. Most of these nights were spent in local hotels, motels, and resorts. Only a few respondents reported that their overnight stays were spent in privately owned cottages or other properties owned by friends and relatives.

While the amount spent on lodging will vary in relation to the number of nights spent in a hotel, motel, or resort, the average for the respondents who spent at least one night was $231.36 with a median outlay of $200.00. In that the average stay was 2.6 nights, it would seem reasonable to assume that a golfer will pay anywhere from $75 to $100 a night for lodging. The following table shows a breakdown of the dollars personally spent on lodging.

$ Spent Percent
Less than $10019.0
$100 to $19926.9
$200 to $29924.9
$300 or more29.2

The majority of trips were of short duration. Eighty-four percent of the trips comprised three or fewer nights with a typical (or median) stay of two nights. Just under 88 percent indicated that they stayed at the same lodging facility for the duration of the trip. Seemingly the decision is to play one or more courses in a geographically-confined area. This phenomenon gives a marketing edge to those areas which provide a cluster of courses which meet the golfer's perceived needs. It also supports the rationale of forming local consortiums to create synergy and cooperation rather than competition among neighboring courses.

An important consideration when evaluating golf's contribution to the state's economy is the amount of money spent on lodging. Given that the average respondent spent just over $231 on lodging and taking into account the measure for nights spent in this lodging (2.61), it can be seen that the average daily lodging expense incurred by the golfers is about $88.50.

Expenditures on Other Activities

Respondents were asked to indicate the various activities besides golf in which they expected to engage besides golf. The following table indicates the relative propensity to engage in any given activity. It can be seen that the most popular recreational alternative is the frequenting of local night clubs and bars. However, only one out of every four golfers mentioned such an activity.

Other ActivityPercent
Clubs and bars24.9
Other Sports Activities6.5
Video Tape Rental0.8

An estimate of the daily expenditures has been created by applying expected value theory based upon projections of the economic contribution of each activity. This estimate is delineated in the following table.

Clubs and Bars$ 50.0024.9$ 12.45
Other sports25.006.51.63
Video Rental6.000.8.05
TOTALxxxxxx$ 37.83
*estimated expenditures

It can be seen that the incremental additional value provided by an individual golfer on a single day is $37.83. When combined with the figures which summarize other daily expenditures both at the golf course and away from it, it can be seen that the total estimate for daily expenditures is $224.56. The National Golf Foundation's multiplier model for projecting economic impact calls for an adjustment to this amount in order to recognize the turnover that each dollar has in the local economy. By applying this value (1.7), the net estimated daily impact of each golfer is approximately $381.75. This figure is significant and supports the premise that additional marketing efforts should be viewed as an investment in the health of the state's economy rather than as a cash drain which benefits only a few course operators. Thus, the next step is to evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of marketing tools used to influence golfers' decisions to play golf at specific Michigan courses.

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CategoryAdjustment Contribution
Course Expenditures1.0$ 84.49
Alternative Activities1.037.83
TOTAL-xxx$ 224.56
MULTIPLIER(1.7)$ 381.75

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The tendency is for golfers to take an active role in the decision as to where to play golf. Almost six out of every 10 golfers made their own decision. Thus, marketing promotions which single out the individual golfer would seem potentially more appropriate. In other words, those media which offer a one-on-one relationship would seem most appropriate. At the golf course, this relationship should be reinforced at every opportunity.

Made own Decision57
Someone Else43

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