The 2018 Ryder Cup … a golf development factor in France

By: Olivier Denis-Massé, CMO, French Golf Federation July 16, 2018

When the French Golf Federation submitted a bid to host the 2018 Ryder Cup, ambitions were strong for French golf!

More courses, more golfers, more champions, and moreover bring golf into the heart of the French population, as the # 1 individual sport in France as it is in the world!

Significant efforts have been made since the bid to achieve these goals.

A plan for the construction of 100 small urban or peri-urban golf structures has been put in place and 10 years later, this goal has been achieved. These Practices, Pitch & Putt or compact courses have put golf in the heart of cities and offer easy and inexpensive initiation formulas to attract new audiences.

Nearly 40,000 new licensed golfers are now listed as having started golf in these structures. They are now regular golfers! many other golfers continue to flock to these structures and become regular players. This golf development program is key for the growth of golf in France.

They are also very attractive for people who do not have enough time to play a full round.

Golf discovery operations have been set up during all these years in the heart of cities, in shopping centers, malls, on beaches to show and introduce golf to all audiences.

All clubs have been mobilized to welcome this new audience and commercial offers have been developed with clubs and the PGA to offer subscription packages.

A Ryder Cup Golf Tour has been organized in France during spring 2018 to show golf to the general public.

2018 Ryder Cup tee

The last stage of this road show will be a fan zone, open to all, installed on the forecourt of the Paris town hall for 10 days in September 2018. Nearly 30,000 people will be able to discover and learn about golf!

The 2018 Ryder Cup is also a great communication channel for all audiences.

Golf has long time been considered a reserved sport in France and most media did not talk about golf. A great event, mobilizing all public and private skills is an incredible asset to talk about golf. Never the daily press, generalist, people, economy, spoke of golf, the 2018 Ryder Cup was a way to put golf in the media.

Outreach operations for young audiences were also set up through “my golf book” for nearly 5000 classes throughout France who used these educational notebooks with golf as a support for teaching subjects such as mathematics, geography, French and of course English!

In a context of the general decline in the number of golfers registered with the federations, France recorded a growth of 3 years in the number of members certainly not in line with our expectations, but more than 0.5% per year which remains very positive versus the European golf federations which are in sharp decline.

Elements related to the 2018 Ryder Cup also allow us to emerge towards wider audiences:

  • Junior Ryder Cup at Disneyland Paris will host 5,000 young people a day for 2 days;
  • A roadshow for 4 months all over France to introduce wider audiences to golf;
  • A Medical Forum at the Louis Vuitton Foundation that will bring together nearly 250 experts who will discuss the physical and mental health benefits of golf;
  • Ambassador program: by creating videos with leading actors, writers, and sportsmen, we were able to reach more than 2 million people and make golf more popular.

Thanks to the Ryder Cup, golf has gained a real recognition from the public authorities. The FFGolf (French Golf Federation) is today recognized as a dynamic, organized federation and holder of projects.

It is only since the candidacy that the leaders of the FFGolf are welcome at the Elysee or in the ministries.

Prior to 2008, the sports department appointment was an annual meeting to apply for a grant. Thanks to this sympathetic listening, the 2018 Ryder Cup project has been able to obtain from the public authorities more than 10 million euros grant.

2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National

The 2018 Ryder Cup’s impact on French golf tourism

Another measurable benefit of the 2018 Ryder Cup is the impact on golf tourism in France. The FFGolf will demonstrate, by hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup, that it is able to receive many tourists.

To this end, a partnership has been established with Atout France, the organization set up by the Ministry of Tourism to promote France as a golf tourism destination.

Many operations have been organized around the world to promote France as a golfing tourist destination. On this point, the competition is still fierce with countries such as Portugal, Spain or Turkey, but, more and more, golf is offered to tourists as a complement to what they usually enjoy in France.

As France and golf are getting extra attention during the Ryder Cup week, we are expecting significant growth in global inbound golf tourism. A lot of golf resorts are mobilized and made the commercial effort, like by hiring English speaking employees, in order to attract new customers and guests.

To measure the real benefit of the 2018 Ryder Cup, the FFGolf commissioned a study on the economic weight of golf in France that will see whether the overall turnover generated by foreign visitors is increasing in comparison to the previous study conducted in 2007.

The Ryder Cup Europe relationship

Finally, the contribution of the 2018 Ryder Cup to the development and support of professional golf tournaments in France is strong.

Another positive point is the Open de France. Thanks to FFGolf’s relationship with Ryder Cup Europe, a new partner has been found which allowed to increase the prize fund from $ 3.5 to $ 7 million and thus integrated the Rolex Series.

Thanks to this collaboration started in 2010, after obtaining the organization of the 2018 Ryder Cup, the FFGolf has intensified its relations with the European Tour and has made its circles of influence bear fruit for the good of golf in France.

In conclusion, the hosting of the 2018 Ryder Cup is a real accelerator for the development of golf.

The legacy of the Ryder Cup for the coming years will bring golf to the position of first individual sport in France, as it is in many countries.

Images by Getty Images & Jacob Sjöman