Friday, February 12, 2010

RoadMap to Asia: The New Golf Frontier

By Luke Epp (SMBA ’11)

This Friday a couple SMBA students had the opportunity to attend the 1st Annual RoadMap to Asia Golf Conference. The conference, which was presented by Golfweek, Asia Golf Monthly, and the Golf Course Superintendents of America Association, focused on the emerging golf market in Asia. Golfweek and Asia Golf Monthly did a tremendous job of fielding a panel of some of the most experienced industry professionals. Among the speakers were: Mark Woodward, the CEO of the GCSAA, Bruce Charlton – President and CEO of Robert Trent Jones Design, Mike Sebastian – Publisher at Asian Golf Monthly, Paul Jones – Managing Partner – Arena KK, Masahiro Kimura – Managing Editor – Golf Digest Japan, and Dennis Allen – President and CEO of Pure Golf TV.

Golf in Asia represents a huge opportunity for many U.S golf companies. The reason for this is due to a few factors: shear population numbers (Asia represents half of the worlds population), globalization, and a growing middle class segment. To give a little perspective, the U.S. has a population of roughly 300 million people, approximately 16,000 golf courses and roughly 26 million golfers. Asia has a population of 3.3 billion and only about 4,000 golf courses. The two countries where the biggest growth is expected are China and India. China currently has 300 golf courses and approximately 300,000 golfers, but it is estimated that in 10 years China could have 10,000 golf courses and a golfing population of 20 million! India currently has 200 courses and approximately 550,000 golfers. India’s steady economic growth and its increasing young middle class make it an alluring market place for the golf industry.

Three recurring themes the panel touched upon when conducting business in the Asian market place were: 1) know the culture and the customs 2) be open-minded and embrace new ways of doing things, and 3) be patient.

The conference was a first-hand experience about how to successfully conduct business in Asia, provided a glimpse at where the future of the golf industry is going, and was an amazing opportunity for SMBA students to network with industry professionals.

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