SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Korea Bizwire) — Riding high on the golf boom in the COVID-19 era, some South Korean public golf courses have pushed up their green fees excessively, stirring up resentment among golfers.
According to the Korea Leisure Industry Institute, the number of users of golf courses stood at 46.7 million in 2020, up 12.1 percent from a year ago.
Thanks to the sharp increase in the number of golfers, golf courses enjoyed robust growth in profits, with their operating profit rate hitting an all-time high at 31.8 percent, up from 12.6 percent in 2016.
In particular, the operating profit rate of public golf courses shot up to 40.5 percent as they hiked their green fees on the back of the increase in the number of golfers.
Public golf courses raised their weekday green fees by 19 percent last year, dwarfing the 7.4 percent increase in weekday green fees for non-members of membership golf courses.
In theory, the green fees of public golf courses should be lower than those of membership golf courses since the former enjoy a variety of tax benefits.
Nonetheless, there are some cases in which the green fees of public golf courses are higher than those of membership golf courses.
Among 234 public golf courses with more than 18 holes, 27.4 percent reported that their average green fees were higher than those for non-members of membership golf courses last year. This figure represents about a fourfold jump compared to four years ago.
In addition to green fees, public golf courses also raised cart fees between 80,000 and 90,000 won (US$67-75) to 120,000 or 130,000 won.
Some public golf courses are levying weekend green fees even for those who golf on Friday afternoon.
J. S. Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)