Scotland is known world-wide as 'the home of golf'. Attracting international and UK-based golfers to stay and play in Scotland is a key strand in the country’s tourism strategy. VisitScotland has a dedicated golf marketing programme which targets golfers throughout the UK and in key international markets across the world.


The Value of Golf to Scotland's Economy


In 2016, VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise commissioned Progressive Partnership and SQW to conduct a programme of research with golfing visitors to Scotland.


The study was to update previous research conducted in 2009 which estimated that golf tourism was worth around £220 million in visitor expenditure. In a further study in 2011, SQW estimated that there was potential to grow golf visitor expenditure to £300 million by 2020. The 2016 research was commissioned to ensure that up to date information was available to inform the implementation of the Scottish Golf Tourism Strategy 2013 - 2020.


Key findings from the 2016 study are:

  • The economic value of golf tourism and events to Scotland has increased to £286 million per annum supporting 4,700 jobs
  • This is an increase of 30% (£66M) over the 2009 figures (£220M)
  • Almost half of Scotland’s golfing visitors (47%) travel from overseas to play golf in Scotland
  • Of these, the North American market remains key and represents 30% of all overnight golfing visitors with a further 14% coming from European visitors
  • On average, overnight golfing visitors spend 6.79 nights in Scotland with overseas visitors spending 10.21 nights
  • Overnight visitors spend on average 7.5 days playing golf while they also average 3.85 days participating in other tourism activities, benefitting non-golf tourism businesses and attractions
  • On average, an overnight golfing visitor will spend £245 per night but this number jumps to £338 for visitors from overseas. North Americans spend approx. £405 per night
  • The majority of overseas golfing visitors (57%) had been to Scotland before suggesting that for many, a trip playing golf in Scotland is not seen as a once in a lifetime experience
  • Of all overnight visitors, 81% overall agreed their trip was one of the best golfing holidays/short breaks they had ever taken
  • Approximately, 12% of golfing visitors were female with this percentage rising to 18% of European visitors.

PDF document Scotland Golf Visitor Survey and Economic Impact 2016 - Executive Summary (size 376kb)


PDF document Scottish Golf Visitor Survey and Economic Impact 2016 - Full Report (size 2.12mb)


Regional Summaries:


PDF document Aberdeenshire (size 308kb)
PDF document Ayrshire (size 300kb)
PDF document Carnoustie Country (size 304kb)

PDF document East Lothian (size 308kb)
PDF document Fife (size 304kb)

PDF document Highlands (size 300kb)
PDF document Perthshire (size 376kb)
PDF document South of Scotland (size 304kb)


The Ryder Cup


In 2014, Scotland hosted one of the world’s major sporting occasions and the biggest tournament in golf, The Ryder Cup. To read the Highlights Report published by all Ryder Cup partners please visit The Scottish Government website.


Additional Resources


For more information on the golf industry, please visit Scottish Golf Limited, the governing body for amateur golf in Scotland.



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