With the golfing world having turned its attention to Italy for the Tour’s BMW Italian Open as well as the annual KPMG Golf Business Forum, our Golf Benchmark Survey in Italy shines a light on a country that could be European golf’s sleeping giant. The report – prepared with the support of Fondazione Campus Lucca – reveals the number of golf courses and golfers in Italy has doubled in the past two decades. And while the number of golfers in Italy continues to rise, the established tourism market could convert more of the country’s 35 million foreign visits per year into higher-yielding golf holidays.

This report is based on operational data from more than 80 golf courses surveyed during the summer of 2012, based on their business performances in 2011. Some of the key findings of the study include:

Membership fees in Italy are among the highest in Europe, resulting in a low membership base at golf courses, with 346 members per course, on average. The average rounds played at Italian golf facilities (19,200) is in line with the European average, however, lower than in several other countries with a strong golf tourism market and comparable climate conditions. With only a quarter of the total rounds being played by tourists, the country could potentially capitalize on a significant latent demand, while attracting new demand. Only 39% of all surveyed facilities reported a positive gross operating profit (GOP) in 2011, while 24% made an operating loss. Profitable courses made an average profit of around EUR 110,000, based on 1.2 million average revenues. However, it is also important to note that only 32% of the facilities surveyed declared to be profit-oriented organizations. About 80% of the total revenues are made up of membership and green fee revenues, and only one fifth are other revenues, including food and beverage, pro-shop revenues, sponsorship and advertisement. Operators’ future expectations were modest, with less than a quarter expecting excellent or good results and 54% forecasting average performances.