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How bulls keep golf in the green: Shaili Chopra

Monday, 10 March 2014 - 8:08pm IST | Agency: dna

With the surging Sensex, I thought it would be a good idea to see if markets and golf are correlated.

In India, the prize money has consistently risen with the bull rallies.

In 2007, the highest prize money on a professional tour was Rs 65 lakh-Rs 70 lakh, mostly higher than all the previous years, and in tandem with the big boom.

In 2010, the Sensex made a comeback -- from a low of 15000-odd to above 20500, and with it the golf story and prize money went up to Rs 95 lakh in the richest tournament.

The following years were dull as sentiment remained tentative with markets slipping to 15000 once again and languishing around 17000. The rupee crash hurt many, and the economic slowdown made it harder to spend. In 2012 and 2013, some tournaments were scrapped, but by end of 2013 the Sensex and the mood picked up. This year the golf tournament prize money hit a high of Rs 1.2 crore, inadvertently in step with the Sensex rally.

Turn to a different market -- homes. Going by the number of real estate firms offering golf view apartments, there is a definite bull run in property. At a rough count, more than 35 firms are offering flats and villas by the fairways. These aren't just coincidences but reflect on the psychology of the big spenders.

In the American context, author and banker Kevin Armstrong wonders in his book, "What is harder to foretell is whether Tiger's winning more majors will ensure markets continue to rise or whether rising markets will guarantee higher popularity of golf. 

The answer is likely a mixture of these." He elucidates that in the2000s in the US both money and markets rose consistently. In 2004, Fiji born Indian Vijay Singh set the record with $10.9 million in prize money. In 2007, at the peak of the bull rally, Tiger Woods equalled that with a packet of $10.8 million. This was the same year Dow hit its all-time high.

Golf for this reason and others makes for a perfect CEO sport. It's for business, by business. When I wrote my first book, Birdies in Business, I studied the connect between boardrooms and greens. From Jack Welch to Steve Ballmer to Anshu Jain, no one spares a business discussion during their game of golf. Business can be conducted on the golf course. And golf just eases up the black-tie setting.

One rough statistic puts the deals done on the greens at 30% of world business. By all means that's substantial, only that deal makers and merchant bankers wait for the rally to get to an upswing to get their big-ticket contracts going.

Golf and GDP growth or even the markets tow each but that can't be said of other sports.

Money in cricket, for example, doesn't fluctuate to such an extent. In the Indian context, cricket is more of an entertainment sport than what we call business golf. The rise of the sports in the country has been stronger in years when the markets boomed. Is it for this reason golf makes a perfect business sport? Who knows but for the sake of the game one hopes that rallies on Dalal Street keep golf in the green!

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