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WORLD GOLF FOUNDATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 16, 2008
BOB COMBS: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us today at the National Press Club. I'm Bob Combs with the World Golf Foundation, and it's my pleasure to welcome you all today as well as those joining us around the country on our national teleconference.
It's an important day for golf. It's an important day in Washington, D.C., the first Papal visit in 30 years honoring this city. It's the 100th anniversary of the National Press Club this year, so we want to acknowledge that. This is an extremely important day for the golf industry, and we're here today to share a little bit of information about that.
What you see right in front of you and what we have in our audience is the strongest coalition of golf leadership that's ever come together to Washington, D.C., to bring the message of golf unity and impact on our country and society in a variety of ways.
Let me introduce some of the people that you'll be hearing from today as well as other associations represented in the audience. Virtually all of golf's core associations are here, including in the audience we have representatives of the Club Managers Association of America, the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the National Golf Course Owners Association and the Golf Course Builders Association of America.
The speakers that you'll be hearing from today representing golf organizations, on my right far you have Mr. Steve Mona representing the World Golf Foundation and CEO; to Steve's left is Tim Finchem, the PGA TOUR Commissioner; to my immediate right is Joe Steranka, the CEO of the PGA of America; on my left we have Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., the CEO of the First Tee; to Joe's right is Libba Galloway, the Deputy Commissioner of the LPGA; and to my immediate left is David Fay, the Executive Director of the USGA and the Chairman this year of the World Golf Foundation.
This is an historic day for golf in the United States. In fact, it's our pleasure to announce that a bipartisan Congressional resolution has been introduced in the Congress today by U.S. Representatives John Mica, a Republican from Florida's 7th Congressional District, and Representative Ron Klein, a Democrat from Florida's 22nd Congressional District. With us today is Virginia Neal from Congressman Klein's office.
The resolution designates today as National Golf Day, the first National Golf Day in America, and it's an honor indeed. So thank you to the Congressmen very much for that acknowledgment and support. With that, I'd like to turn it over to the chairman of the World Golf Foundation this year and USGA Executive Director David Fay for his opening comments. David?
DAVID FAY: Thank you, Bob. It's a pleasure for me to be here and I want to echo our appreciation to Congressmen Mica and Klein for introducing this bipartisan resolution. The key word is collaboration, the way they went across the aisle, and in many ways that's what we're doing today. The reality is that golf is a wonderful sport, and like most other sports it consists of what I'd have to call an alphabet soup of organizations, and it's appropriate we be talking about alphabet soup and acronyms because I think Washington, D.C., is probably the epicenter of acronyms.
But the fact is we are working more closely together and communicating more effectively than ever before. We all know that golf is a great game. It's a great game to play, it's a great game to watch. But one of the messages that we've come to Washington to deliver is that not only is it a great game, but it is a meaningful industry. It's a meaningful business. And you can feel that in terms of the economic impact, you can feel it in terms of the environmental impact, and lastly, you can feel it in terms of the human impact.
With that, I want to turn it to my good friend Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America, who will talk about the economic impact of golf.
JOE STERANKA: Thank you, David. It is a pleasure to be back in my stomping grounds where I started in my professional career with the Washington Bullets. As a journalism major, it is indeed an honor to be at the National Press Club.
David asked me to spend a few minutes in his role as Chairman of the World Golf Foundation to speak about a study that was done and released at the PGA Merchandise Show, and it talked about the economic impact of this game. We're blessed to have a game that has great values and ideals and certainly has never been more of America's popular culture.
But to think that we're an industry now that is $76 billion a year, something that has grown 4.1 percent annually since 2000, when it was a $62-billion-a-year industry, and that came through during some uncertain economic times, it really, I believe, speaks to the stability and the resilience of the industry. We used the group SRI International to conduct this study, and they uses data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that computes GDP at the state level.
And when you look at the fact that golf produces some 2 million jobs in this country, 2 million, for this game that we enjoy so much, and those jobs represent $61 billion in wages, that rolls up to a total economic impact, direct and induced impact, of $195 billion, making golf bigger than the motion picture industry, bigger than the newspaper publishing industry, bigger than all the spectator sports, professional sports and semipro sports, combined. So again, we're very proud of the game, but the numbers go along with it.
The PGA was founded in 1916 with two missions in mind; one was to establish and constantly elevate the standards of what it takes to be a PGA professional, and we have a number of PGA professionals in the audience today led by the president of the PGA, Brian Whitcomb.
Those PGA professionals uphold that mission, which since 1916 has been promoting an interest and participation in the game of golf. And that focus of growing interest and participation led the PGA and all of the stakeholders here at this table and many in the room to support an initiative called Play Golf America.
Play Golf America annually focuses on how we can make the game more accessible, more affordable, easier to pick up and easier to stay in for the millions of people that are looking for an introduction to a sport that you can play for a lifetime, from age 8 to 80. We're very proud of the access and the ability to match people of different abilities through the USGA handicap system and the great teaching of PGA professionals.
Junior golf is a big part of what all of us do in this room, and you're going to hear about that later from our colleague Joe Barrow. I will share with you that when you look at some of the people, and we've talked so much about the human impact of this game, the great charitable impact, but when you talk about $3 billion or $31/2 billion, sometimes that becomes a surreal number.
Let me put a face on some of those people, and I'll ask Dan Rooney, a PGA professional in the audience. Dan was the creator of Patriot Golf Day, which really, with just six weeks of word-of-mouth marketing and the support of the USGA and the PGA and the Golf Course Owners Association, raised $1.1 million at the nation's golf courses, more than 3,000 golf courses, to fund scholarships for those soldiers who gave their lives to serve our country, to provide scholarships for their sons and daughters and spouses.
Another PGA professional who's with us today is Jim Estes. He's been featured in some of the commercials that you might see during the Senior PGA Championship or the PGA Championship. Jim works with our wounded warriors, part of the PGA of America's work with Disabled Sports USA, and it shows you -- in the particular spot that Jim's involved with, shows an amputee hitting a 260-yard drive.
We have a great game that with the great skills of PGA professionals has never been easier to play, easier to pick up and to enjoy for the rest of your life.
So with that, I'll turn it over to another colleague here, Steve Mona. Steve is the new CEO of the World Golf Foundation. Steve?
STEVE MONA: Thank you, Joe. Good afternoon. My chore today is to speak about golf's relationship with the environment, more specifically the impact that golf has on the environment. And I want to make three important points that I'm going to speak to very briefly. First, that golf is focused on managing its water use. I'll speak to that in just a minute. Secondly, golf is focused on reducing the amount of acreage on our nation's golf courses. And then finally, that golf is focused on participating in various environmental stewardship programs.
The reason I can make these statements is based on 14 years that I spent as the CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and its president, Dave Downing, is in the room, and the 25-plus years that golf has been actively involved in various environmental programs. I think that's one of the secrets of golf. A lot of people perceive that golf is new to this "green movement," if you will, but the fact is that golf has been involved in what we would term the "green movement" for two and a half decades, and I think that's a fact that's often overlooked.
So let me first talk about the whole issue of how golf is managing its water use in a very judicious way. I'm just going to give you some facts that speak to that. First of all, golf course irrigation accounts for one half of one percent of the nation's water use on a daily basis, so one half of one percent is actually used on golf courses throughout the United States. 65 percent of golf facilities have upgraded their irrigation systems to more efficiently and effectively apply irrigated water to golf facilities and golf courses.
Less than 15 percent of courses use municipal water, and more than 12 percent of golf courses use recycled water, and that figure would even be higher except for the fact it it's not available in areas where people desire to use it.
So the overall statement that golf in terms of its water use is very responsible but even getting more so is most accurate.
Which leads me to the second point I want to make, and that is that golf is most focused on the maintained acreage on a golf facility. Let me just give you some facts that would illustrate that point. First of all, just some context on what a golf course looks like nationally. The average golf course is about 150 acres. That includes everything on the physical premises. Of that, only about 100 acres is actually grass, maintained at one level or another. And of the 100 acres, 58 acres are maintained at what you would consider to be not intensely maintained at all, and that would include low maintenance areas such as rough, driving ranges, et cetera. So of that, only six acres, six of what started out as 150, became 100 in terms of grass, but only six acres are what you would consider to be intensely maintained, three acres of tees, three acres of greens, and that's it.
In terms of other features on the golf course, about 35 acres of the 150 I spoke of are either forest, wetlands, ponds or other habitat areas, and that leaves about 11 acres that are water bodies on a golf course, ponds, lakes, streams, et cetera. I think the best way to look at that is you have 11 acres of ponds and waterways, you have six acres of greens, so you almost have twice as many acres of waterways as you do of intensely maintained surfaces such as greens and tees. So I think that gives you some context to what's really going on on a golf course.
And then finally, with respect to golf's participation in voluntary environmental stewardship programs, and again, think the perception is that we're new to this game when, in fact, we're not, but let me give you a few facts. About 30 percent of the nation's 18-hole golf courses participate in some form of a formal voluntary environmental stewardship program, 30 percent. About 2,400 golf courses in the United States participate in the Audubon International environmental stewardship program, a significant number, and by far the No. 1 program in the United States, at least on a national level, in terms of a voluntary environmental stewardship program.
And of those courses that participate in these programs, they average about -- have averaged, pardon me, about seven improvements to their golf course environmentally over the last ten years. And if you take all golf courses that I spoke of, they average about five improvements over the last ten years. For example, those would include things such as irrigation system upgrades I spoke about earlier, installation of native plantings, reduces inputs and water consumption certainly, erosion control measures is another, and the enhancement of wetlands, all things that are designed to improve and enhance the environment but also decrease the amount of input going onto a golf course on an annual basis certainly.
So I just want to leave you with one parting thought about golf and its relationship to the environment, and that is this: First, that the golf industry is proactive, no question about it, and is making significant strides to manage its golf courses in ways that are environmentally in tune with nature. And I'd like to give a substantial amount of credit to the Environmental Institute For Golf, which is the charitable organization of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, because it's now about midway through some ground-breaking research that allows us to come up here and make these statements that we're making.
Through the Institute there's five specific studies that either have been concluded or are underway, and those include things such as the physical properties of a golf course, that's where I cited a lot of the statistics from; water use and conservation; nutrient inputs; pesticide use; and then finally energy use and environmental practices. But the biggest picture here is that we're going to know exactly what occurs on a golf course in the United States, and then we're going to be able to monitor progress over time. So whereas before a lot of the statistics that were cited sometimes were anecdotal, now we have hard data to support that.
The final statement is this, and this goes back to what Dave mentioned, virtually all of golf's major organizations support the Environmental Institute For Golf, either through financial contributions or support on the various boards and committees, again proving that golf is aligned and golf is in unison.
With that I'd like to bring up the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Mr. Tim Finchem, to talk about golf's human impact. Tim?
TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Steve. Good afternoon, everyone. On behalf of the PGA TOUR, let me just say how pleased we are to be a part of what's happened today, to be here with the other leaders of the golf industry, to raise the profile of golf as it relates to economic impact, the impact on the environment, and also the impact on people, which is what I'd like to comment on, because if you stand back and look at golf, it is truly the unique platform for charitable giving and has demonstrated that over the years.
As Joe referenced, some $3.5 billion of that economic impact were direct dollars that were raised for charitable causes, in 2005 the most recently measured year.
But within that $3.5 billion, and in analyzing why that is, I think you could say that golf is the universal charitable platform, and it is so for a couple of reasons; one, the values that golf represents, that we reach to our kids through the game of golf, create this feeling of giving back; and secondly, golf in and of itself as a sport lends itself to fundraising and charitable activity.
The organizations that you see here today believe in the concept of giving back. Each of them in our own ways does what we can to utilize this platform to generate impact on human life.
At thousands of golf courses around the country, virtually every one of them were used multiple times during the year to do fundraising efforts, but there are more that the organizations do. In the case of the PGA TOUR, we organize our tournaments with 100 percent of the net proceeds going to charity, which resulted last year in $123 million being raised for charities around the country.
But whether you look at the $3.5 billion or $150 million at professional events, they are staggering numbers, but they don't really tell the story of what the dollars do to impact people. You have to go beyond the dollars and look at the impact on the St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis, on the homes for dysfunctional families built by the Salesmanship Club because of the funds raised at the EDS Byron Nelson Classic, on the impact at the Bob Hope Hospital structures in Palm Springs, at the Arnold Palmer Hospital complex in Orlando, and it goes on and on and on. Certainly the First Tee program is an effort by the golf industry that raises funds on a charitable basis to reach out and teach core values to kids and has reached a couple million of them in the last few years.
As Joe referenced, a lot of our activity focuses around supporting our men and women in uniform, the program that the PGA and the USGA have worked together on. At TPCs around the country last year we raised $2.5 million for homefront activities, and we have kind of a unique story that I think brings home the use of golf in some of these activities, especially as it relates to the rehabilitation of some of our soldiers who lose a limb over in Iraq.
We have a young man here today I'd like to recognize, Dan Nevins, who is seated here today. Dan works for us and coordinates activities around the country that involve these groups, military personnel, Tournament Players Clubs, activities, some of our tournaments. Dan was injured in 2004 when an IED hit his vehicle, killed the driver. Dan lost a leg, came back to the United States, had to undergo 27 or 28 operations, over months of rehab. This past January he had a very severe infection diagnosed in his other leg. He made the decision to have it amputated. He used golf to rehab after that operation.
Now, think about that. That's January, this is April. Dan, who's got his priorities straight, hasn't come back to work yet but he managed to play golf for the last three days in the aftermath of his operation (laughter).
The focus on using the game of golf, whether it's to create opportunities to generate funds to support groups or to use the game itself to rehab soldiers demonstrates in one small way some of the impact that moves from the game of golf to people in need around this country.
I think one of the things that our players and the people that work in the organizations that are here with you today take perhaps the greatest pride in is not that we create and communicate the excitement of the game, and it's not that we -- if you're a PGA member do that great job of teaching an individual; it's that these organizations stand for making sure that we're giving back and helping out.
And with that said, I'd like to continue this conversation by introducing Libba Galloway from the LPGA.
LIBBA GALLOWAY: Thank you, Tim. On behalf of the more than 1,700 women who comprise the LPGA, I'd like to thank you for celebrating National Golf Day with us. Golf is so much more than just a game. It's an American institution that adds value and joy to our way of life.
As an industry, we are united like never before at our efforts. You'd be amazed what happens when we throw our doors wide open and invite everyone to come in and check things out. We begin to appreciate the power of accessibility, and we reaffirm our faith in the game that we love and its potential impact around the world.
The people in this room represent the incredible spirit and philanthropic nature of our sport. With such an impressive and far-reaching portfolio of giving, it's not surprising that golf continues to touch more and more lives around the world.
Today, for example, the world's dominant players, Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa, are some of the most universally admired superstars in the world of sport, both for their performance and also for their commitment to bettering the lives of others.
Lorena, Tiger, Annika, they connect with and inspire diverse audiences. Moreover, as we celebrate their accomplishments, we are also celebrating multiculturalism and moving closer to a game without borders.
While golf's global appeal has never been greater, we remain tireless in our commitment to nurture the game at home. Four years ago golf's allied organizations helped launch Women's Golf Week to encourage women of all ages and economic backgrounds to try our game for free. This proved to be a very popular concept, and it's now developed into Women's Golf Month. For the entire month of June, golf courses around the country will offer women free golf lessons and golf-related networking and social activities.
In junior golf, programs continue to flourish, like the LPGA USGA Girls' Golf which targets girls ages 7 to 17. These young golfers build lasting friendships and experience competition in a fun, supportive environment, preparing them for a lifetime of enjoyment with golf.
We're proud of the values inherent in golf, practice, respect, perseverance and honesty, and we're humbled when we see young girls and boys apply those lessons on and off the golf course.
And speaking of junior golf and the values inherent in the game, I'd like to now introduce Joe Barrow, chief executive officer of the First Tee.
JOE BARROW: Thank you, Libba, and thank you all for being here. It's a delight to be a part of this group recognizing National Golf Day. There's probably no greater example of collaboration of the golf organizations than in 1997 when Augusta National Golf Club, The United States Golf Association, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and LPGA came together to form and announce the establishment of an organization called the First Tee.
The First Tee is a youth development organization that's predicated on the values associated with the game of golf. Without question, we're reaching young people throughout this country and sharing with them not only the grip, stance and posture and the rules and etiquette of the game, but we're also sharing with them life skills and values that they carry off the golf course and on to other aspects of their lives. Honesty, integrity, responsibility, perseverance, respect are just some of the nine core values that we share with these young people.
In addition to that, we have something integrated called our life skills experience. That's where we share with young experience how to set goals, how to trust their judgment, how to have confidence in themselves, and they take these skills away from the golf course and into every aspect of their lives.
We've grown pretty precipitously. We're very pleased to say that we celebrated our 10th anniversary last November. We have some 202 chapters throughout this country and four international locations. We have 500 learning facilities and program affiliates. We have 160 school districts that are involved with this and 2,000 elementary schools in the National School Program.
The significance about the National School Program is this is the first time that golf is going where the kids are. Right now golf is still an elective sport. You still have to come to the golf course, come to the junior golf program, participate in some after-school programs. The National School Program literally is taught by physical education teachers in an in-school environment for two or three weeks out of the year, and if they're in school that week, they're participating in the National School Program. They're learning the nine core values, they're learning the motor mechanisms associated with the swing of a golf club instead of the swinging of a bat.
The point is that golf, with the National School Program, has become very relevant in our society, and we're going to grow that significantly.
When you think about the impact that we're having on young people, we did some independent studies by the University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Florida, University of Virginia and University of Minnesota. 76 percent of the parents in one study saw an increased level of confidence in their young people because of their involvement in the First Tee. Another 70 percent or so saw an increase in their social abilities. 52 percent saw an increase in their grades.
All of these are real, real meaningful levels of impact that we're having on these young people in a way that their parents are seeing extraordinary different people coming off the golf course and off the golf environment into their lives.
In another study, and just one of several indicators, 96 percent of the young people who participated in the First Tee can tell us where they had transferred respect off the golf course and into their lives, with greater respect for their brothers and sisters, greater respect for their parents, their teachers, the school environment, and greater respect for life, if you will.
So this takes golf into a real human change in terms of the typical stereotype or the typical understanding of the game of golf. It really takes golf into an area of our society that is having an impact that no one would have considered golf would have had many, many years ago or even today. We're reaching young people who otherwise would not have had access to the game in urban areas, rural areas and suburban areas.
50 percent of the young people participating in the First Tee are diverse, 35 versus 16 percent of diversity in all of golf; 35 percent are young girls versus 25 percent in all of golf; the point simply being is that golf now should be looked at as an organization of sport, an institution that is really reaching out and making a difference in our society. It's making a difference because it's sharing with young people values that they are taking in their lives and applying in their lives in a way that frankly we are not sure any other sport is doing as we are doing and has not documented as we have done.
So when you think about golf and the human impact, the First Tee is just one isolated story in addition to the other stories that Commissioner Finchem talked about in the hospitals and the special homes. But when you think of golf now and you think of the First Tee, you can think of an organization and an industry and a game that is having a phenomenal impact throughout the streets of our communities and throughout our families and all those who have embraced what we are doing.
It's a wonderful opportunity, and to think that golf is doing such a thing is remarkable level of an example of this collaboration in this room and how people believe in the young people in our society because the young people in our society represent 100 percent of our future. To the extent they have the values and the understanding and the drive and the determination that we're sharing with them, our society is going to be a very different and a better place. Thank you.
BOB COMBS: Thank you, Joe. Thank you to all our speakers. Let's open it up from the floor for any questions for any of our speakers on today's program.
Q. Why was April 16th chosen as National Golf Day?
JOE STERANKA: Obviously we're looking at when Congress is in session, and we set the date several months ago based on that schedule and members of Congress going back to district usually on Fridays now. So looking at this date coming right off the Masters, and Augusta National certainly did its part in promoting just how fun and accessible the game is. They had a historic telecast of the par-3 tournament that showed the players and their families playing the short course with a few clubs and having a lot of fun on the eve of a very serious, historic event in our country. So all of that was part of what contributed to today.
Q. For anybody who wants to answer it, the National Golf Foundation has done studies that you all know about where a number of people are coming into the game but the same number of people pretty much are going out of the game. And in terms of rounds played, if I'm not mistaken, I think they're down or flat or whatever. I'm just wondering, how do you change that to be a positive for the game, to get more people to play? Do you see that happening?
JOE STERANKA: I've spent a little bit of time answering similar questions, and from 2000 to today, we have had about 2 percent growth in the number of people playing the game. Rounds have been relatively even. Last year, for example -- we have a program we do with the National Golf Course Owners Association that's called PGA Performance Track, and it said that rounds played were up .2 percent, even though the days that we had available to offer golf were down 2 percent because of weather.
The most important number for the industry side is the fact that revenue per round grew at more than 10 percent per round all year long, pretty much every month from January through December we saw that revenue per round grow. It speaks to the economic stability.
Play Golf America, which all of these organizations support, it's making a difference. And alliances with specific organizations such as the Executive Women's Golf Association, showed that their members actually stay in the game at an 80 percent clip, which is far and away one of the best performing women's golf initiatives.
The focus on a complimentary introduction to the game, which next month is PGA Free Lesson Month and then the promotion of our members and their skills and fitting people with the right equipment, we believe, is going to show some market increase over the next several years.
We are blessed that we believe we'll be the sport of choice for boomers so we have 78 million people getting ready to go into the prime time of their lives playing the game and spending on the game. But the investment each and every organization is making in junior golf and then specifically reaching out to women in this country to play we believe is going to change that and you'll see some market increase in not only the rounds played, which would happen regardless of whether we increased golfers, but the actual number of people playing the game.
JOE BARROW: Let me just say from the First Tee's perspective, 35 percent of the young people that we introduce the game to to our chapter network convert to our Par, Birdie or Eagle program, which is our more concerted effort to share with them the game of golf. The studies that I cited earlier from the University of Virginia, 86 percent of the young people who participate in our Par, Birdie or Eagle retained in the program from year to year. So we're very excited about the prospects, that number one, we're introducing the game.
Another statistic you should be aware of is that 85 percent of the young people participating in the First Tee had never, ever played the game of golf before the First Tee. So we're clearly reaching young people. We're introducing them to a new game that they're enjoying and they're staying in, and we think over time obviously it will have a major impact.
Between the First Tee and the First Tee National School Program we've reached 2.2 million young program over the last six years.
Q. I have a question. As far as sports go worldwide, you've got the world championships, as we talk about here in America, the world baseball, the world basketball, the world championships of all of those sports, but they really only relate to America, to us here. How is golf addressing golf globally? Is it primarily a sport for here in the United States, or is there some collective group working on golf globally?
BOB COMBS: I think any of our speakers here could address that, but to begin with why don't we flip it to Commissioner Finchem.
TIM FINCHEM: Well, that could be a long answer. Let me see if I can do it in shorthand. Clearly golf is a global game. As a matter of fact, I think Mr. Rugge of the IOC just indicated in recent months or commented that if you look around at major sports and rank the top three per continent, golf pops up from a participation standpoint just about everywhere. Our product here in the United States, television product, is consumed in 225 odd countries around the world.
You're seeing some of the best players in the world come from all over the globe, and now that all of the best players are playing more frequently, you can see that relative comparison. Golf is exploding in the developing markets in Asia. So it's growing.
To your point, though, about the collaboration, in 1994 we started The International Federation of PGA Tours, which was a good start to get the tours talking to each other. More recently the World Golf Foundation has sort of taken on the mantle of bringing everybody together at the table. We worked on the anti-doping policies that were approved last year. They've been collaborating on other programs that relate to the future of the game.
The World Golf Championships, I think we've mentioned publicly, we're working on a new World Golf Championship event to be played in Asia and take advantage of extending the World Golf Championships to the Asian region. And most recently I think all of us at the World Golf Foundation agreed sometime in the last year to take a really hard look at golf in the Olympics, which for '16 will be decided next year, and we're in that process now as we referenced in the past few days.
There is an enormous amount of activity globally and a lot of energy behind pulling the game of golf more closely together. I think a lot of us see the Olympic thing as one where you can't help grow the game. It might not have a huge impact in the golf-developed countries, but in a wide range of countries where it hasn't developed that well, it could be a catalyst. But also it has the by-product of yet something else that pulls the game together on a global basis, which if we harness our collective energies on days like today, we can get more accomplished, so there's a lot of work being done.
DAVID FAY: On the amateur side, there is an organization called The International Golf Federation, and it has two goals; one, to get golf on the Olympic program, and second, to play the World Amateur Team Championships. We have over 100 countries who are members of the International Golf Federation. In many ways these entities mirror the USGA in their own countries. They can put on national competitions, open, amateur. They're responsible for the rules. It's a very healthy organization, and some of the countries that are members might be surprising to some folks here. The Islamic republic of Iran is a member of the IGF, and in fact, they sent a women's team to the Women's World Amateur Team Championships in 2002.
It's interesting in terms of the global perspective that we're here in Washington because 50 years ago the IGF, which was then known as the WAGC, World Amateur Golf Council, was created, and the person who was behind it in many ways was president Dwight Eisenhower, and it was created in 1958. And I think, as Tim said, this is definitely a global game and there's a great opportunity to take this wonderful sport and export it to countries that haven't yet played it, but also as importantly, to take this sport and to expose it more efficiently to countries that are just beginning to play.
LIBBA GALLOWAY: If I could speak to this from the women's golf standpoint, we've seen a tremendous increase in the popularity of golf among amateurs and professional women internationally. From the LPGA standpoint, five years ago, most of our players were U.S. players. Now the majority of them are international players. And that's translated into -- from a television standpoint, a great increase in our international television distribution revenues, which have increased almost tenfold over the past five years coming back into the United States.
The LPGA intends to remain a U.S.-based Tour; we'll continue to have the majority of our events in the United States. But we are continuing to strategically place events in international markets to take advantage of the growth in the game internationally and what it brings back to all of us.
Asia is a great opportunity for growth, but the most recent area that we've seen is Latin America. Coming on the heels of Lorena Ochoa being No. 1 in the world and the things that she's accomplished, we've seen a great growth in popularity of golf in Latin America. But perhaps more significantly we see what Lorena through golf has brought to non-golfers in Latin America. She's developed charter schools and she's really inspired a country of people who don't have as much as we have here in the United States. That's just one more example of the great impact that golf has from a human standpoint on the world.
Q. David and Tim, I assume you're both directly involved in this. Talk about the possibility of the Olympics in 2016. How realistic is that? Where would it be? What are you talking about?
TIM FINCHEM: I think I articulated in my comments the other day that there are challenges, and David has actually spent more energy on this. But the way we see it now, we have a challenge with regard to our schedule, which really falls on the professional side. Libba and Carolyn Bivens with the LPGA, Joe and I have sort of been charged with the schedule of figuring out how it would work.
It's challenging because you have to work it out in permutations given where the Olympic games go. They just don't tell you the dates for the next 25 years. So we have that work to do. And then the structure of the organization that would interface with the IOC would need to be organized and that's going to take a little bit of work.
But the decision will be made next year. The IOC has indicated a couple times that they're very interested but they are their own bureaucracy and their own process to work through. They have a constitution that says that if you're going to accept a new sport, you have to drop a sport. So that process has to move forward.
But I think we're prepared to work together on interfacing with the IOC to deal with our issues and give it the best chance and then we'll just have to see, but David has his own perspective.
DAVID FAY: First of all, I think it's important that the leading bodies of golf have now expressed support for the concept of golf going back on the Olympic program. That's very important.
As I mentioned earlier, the IGF had been pursuing this, but the IGF basically, even though it represents many countries, it did not represent the professional game, and I believe now the professional game is supportive of the game of golf being on the Olympic program.
As Tim said earlier, we have a lot of work to do this year and next year. The decision-making will be made in October of 2009, not only as to the sports that will be on the 2016 team program but where the 2016 games will be held. There's seven cities that are bidding, one of which is Chicago, Illinois. Another is Rio.
The good news is that each of those seven cities could handle golf. The good news is that golf is a sport which would not require obviously building a new stadium. The good news is that golf, as far as the IOC is concerned, is environmentally a plus. The good news is that golf as a sport lends itself to paralympic competition, so there are many pluses.
We're going to have to, as Tim said, do a lot of work. But we get the sense that the IOC wants to have golf on the Olympic program, and we also get the sense, and we've conducted -- the USGA and the R & A conducted a study of our IGF member countries, and it came back overwhelmingly that countries would say if golf becomes an Olympic sport, that will be the greatest act in terms of jump-starting the growth of the sport in our countries in terms of possible revenue it could get from the IOC, possible revenue it could get from national Olympic bodies, and even in some cases the government themselves.
As Tim said, there's a lot of work to be done, but I think we're all eager to put our shoulder to the stone.
BOB COMBS: At this point let's open to up to our callers calling in from around the country on the teleconference line.
Q. I've heard probably each one of you discuss the growth of the game. What I'd kind of be interested in hearing about is the retention, and specifically cost. It's not something that you hear mentioned too often outside of kids and the First Tee, but how you retain golfers with the average cost of rounds so high.
JOE STERANKA: Well, actually the cost of golf has come down because of the preponderance of new facilities and daily fee facilities built in this country. I just got back from Iowa, where two thirds of the golf facilities in Iowa are nine-hole facilities, and as a result Iowa has -- I think it's in the Top 10 of high school golfers Nationwide, even though it's a relatively small state.
The average greens fee for nine holes in this country is $12. There are hundreds of courses in our state in Florida that provide the opportunity for children to play free during the off-season. We're blessed with a seasonal market.
The manufacturing industry is focused on making entry-level cost clubs available. Keep in mind many times you can play this game with the same athletic equipment in terms of apparel and footwear that you play -- people are blessed to play other sports with.
On the retention side itself, retention really comes down to the value that people get out of investing time and money in golf. And we've seen that time is more important actually than money. You can choose to spend hundreds of dollars and play at great resorts from Pebble Beach to Whistling Straits to Kiawah Island, but your daily fee facility is accessible and affordable by and large, and we'll stack that up for a family of four to go out and enjoy four hours of healthy activity on the golf course with almost any spectator -- professional spectator sport that there is out there today.
So quite to the contrary, we don't see cost as big a factor as some might say in retaining people; it comes down to the value they get out of that round of golf, and I know our PGA professionals are focused on equipping people with the ability to hit a few good shots.
Golf is a game that we can hit shots like Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam, and there aren't too many sports out there that we can all enjoy that. Those are the shots that keep us coming back, and PGA professionals are all committed to helping us hit a few more of them.
BOB COMBS: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. It's been a great pleasure for all of us to share the first National Golf Day with you. I know all of our speakers can probably accommodate a one-on-one opportunity for a moment or two if anyone desires that. Beyond that, thank you very much for being part of this historic day. We appreciate your attendance.
End of FastScripts