Golf Datatech, which has been evaluating the U.S. market since 1997, and Yano Research Institute Limited, the leading golf-research firm in Japan, released the study Jan. 22 at the PGA Merchandise Show. The two countries, which account for more than 35 million golfers, produced nearly $9 billion in sales in 2013, with the Japanese golf market accounting for $3.7 billion.
The long-held belief was that U.S. golf sales were twice those of the Japanese market, but the Golf Datatech-Yano study suggests it "is actually closer to a three-to-two size differential," and in fact was more like 5:4 in 2012.
Still, an expected increase in Japan's consumption tax might change things. An August report from Yano predicts the golf market there will decline, falling to 95.1 percent of its 2012 levels this year and further to 91.9 percent of those levels in 2015.