The study also suggests that while spending on the course has not recovered, retail spending on golf equipment and apparel came back much faster with Q1 2011 spending up 10%, year-over-year.
Also, new are emerging as golfing destinations based on increases in spend at courses in their state. Among them are South Dakota, Iowa, and Delaware. But states that traditionally got the biggest golf spend have seen dropping share. California golf spend dropped 10%; Texas was down 5%, Florida was down 14%, and new New York and Georgia 4% and 7%, respectively.
"Golf has a reputation as a rich man's game and while the numbers prove that out, it didn't help shield the sport from the impact of the recession," said Ed Jay, SVP at American Express Business Insights. "There is a surprising bright spot with Generation Y becoming the group to watch, increasing spend while older generations pull back."