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Korean golf set for international rise

Korean golf set for international rise

The game of golf in Korea has been advancing rapidly over the years and has risen considerably in popularity of late to become more than just a sport.

With its widening reach and appeal to more and more people, golf has definitely become big business.

GfK retail audit of golf club sales at major golf chain stores reported some 29,500 golf clubs sold in the first four months of 2014, translating to around 5,000 more compared to the same time period last year.

Findings during the same period in the last three years have revealed consistent upward trend in sales volume, proving that the Koreans’ fixation with golf is indeed increasingly deepening and becoming more widespread.

“Whereas golf was once deemed a prestigious activity only afforded by the rich and more sophisticated group of people, it has in recently times evolved to become a relatively inexpensive pastime that can be enjoyed by the mass,” commented Chang KyungEun, Managing Director for GfK in Korea.

“The vast number of indoor and outdoor golf courses and screen golf facilities that are sprouting out to cater to this growing culture is making it more accessible than ever for people to enjoy this sport, whether for business or leisure.”

The driver segment of golf clubs makes up the highest sales accounting for over a quarter of the overall volume turnover.

However, the greatest growth comes from utility wood segment sold over 4,500 units this year, translating to a 167 percent spike in volume demand against last year.

Another product which reported strong growth in both volume and value demand was the Iron golf club set - the highest contributing segment making up nearly two-fifth of the total market.

Nearly 4,400 units worth US$4.9 million were snapped up within January to April this year.

Currently, Korean, Japanese and USA manufacturers dominate the market which comprises over 40 brands.

In the past year, consumers have shown an apparent swing in preference towards Korean and Japanese brands, which managed to grow their volume share in the market by 61 and four per cent, at the expanse of the American brands.

Overall, six of the eight golf club segments tracked by GfK showed a substantial drop in average prices by 18 percent compared to a year ago.

The most significant decline was seen in the Iron club set which at US$1,132, was around 18 per cent cheaper than 2013.

Meanwhile, only the putter and wedge segments registered increases in average price by 16 and 11 per cent respectively.

“A study revealed that the golf population in Korea grew by 130,000 in 2013 compared to the previous year - a good indication of the great prospects of this sport,” highlighted Chang.

“The rising sophistication and improving amenities, not to mention increasing competition of the golfing landscape in Korea will only help fuel continued growth for this sport which is already gaining strong recognition for the country on a global scale,” he concluded.