Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters win predicted to lead to Far East golf surge

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 16, 2021 11:47

There are predictions that Hideki Matsuyama’s win at the 2021 Masters will lead to a surge in popularity of the sport in Asia, particularly Japan.

Matsuyama, 29, became both the first Asian-born player to win The Masters and the first-ever Japanese professional golfer to win a men’s major golf championship, with victory in Augusta, and will probably be favourite to win Olympic gold in the golf event later this year – in Japan.

The Masters victory was also a double for the country – as Tsubasa Kajitani won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur a few days earlier.

Japan’s golf-related market has been on a downward trend, totaling slightly over 1.3 trillion yen in 2018, half the figure in 1996.

The number of Japanese golfers dropped from its 1991 peak of 17.84 million to 8.9 million in 2016.

Meanwhile, the number of its golf courses peaked at 2,460 facilities in 2002, but fell to 2,227 in 2019, according to the Japan Golf Course Management Association.

Yano Research Institute Ltd. expected domestic sales of golf-related products to shrink by 10 percent in 2020 from the previous year.

But news of Matsuyama’s victory triggered a buying spree of golf-related stocks. On April 12, the stock price of Value Golf Inc., a golf course booking operator, surged by 19 percent from the closing price on the last trading day of the previous week.

“I’m glad to be able to open the floodgates hopefully,” Matsuyama said through a translator, “and many more will follow me.

“It’s thrilling to think that there are a lot of youngsters in Japan watching today. Hopefully in five, 10 years, when they get a little older, hopefully some of them will be competing on the world stage. But I still have a lot of years left, so they are going to have to compete against me still.”

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan celebrates winning the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, April 11, 2021

“Japan’s fans, golfing fans, have waited for this opportunity,” said Mike Ishizaka, chairman of GolfTEC and founder of the Tokyo-based Golf Digest Online Inc. “All the pressure is on him to carry Japan. It’ll be huge for up-and-coming professional golfers to see someone like Hideki make it through in a major.”

‘The sport has been enjoying something of a boom in the east,’ reads a statement from Sports Marketing Surveys.

‘On the professional side, Matsuyama’s maturation comes at the same time as other standout young stars like Sung-Jae Im and Si Woo Kim are making strides up the rankings. The women’s world rankings are currently led by three Koreans. On a grassroots level, the demand to play golf has been fuelled by lockdown and travel restrictions, leading to golf membership enquiries and prices reaching record highs in the region. While this has benefitted those managing golf courses, or selling on memberships, which, at top private clubs, are often tradeable debenture type subscriptions, the continent still has much to do to ensure that everyone who wants to play can find a tee time to do so. High population density and a relative lack of golf facilities means that tee time availability can be expensive as well as competitive.’

Eric Lynge, chief executive of the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF), added: “It is a fantastic result for Asian golf! The region’s golfing community is thrilled. The challenge now is to capitalise on the momentum and make sure that Matsuyama and Kajitani’s Augusta triumphs are channelled towards broadening access to golf on the continent.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 16, 2021 11:47
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  1. Arthur April 18, 19:41

    It’s a given Asian Golf ️‍♀️ ️‍♂️ have the people the hunger the resources the weather

    Reply to this comment
  2. Jon S April 18, 13:11

    Remember, golf experience venues like http://www.indoorgolfarena.eu provide novices and youth with an affordable and easy access entry level to the game, and so provide a valuable contribution to growing the game. This is likely to count double in Japan, given the traditional nature of the market.

    Reply to this comment
  3. J Mc Fadden April 17, 14:21

    Well done Hideki but my loyalties firmly lie with the previous year’s champion.
    I have been a Dustin Johnson fan for eleven years now.
    He was so unlucky with everything that went on only to hold the coveted green jacket for five months.
    Hideki deserved his victory, but Dustin Johnson will win one if not two majors this calendar year.
    Hideki’s triumph, hopefully, will lead to a surge in golf’s popularity in the Far East.
    I have often campaigned for the Ryder Cup to be expanded to include players from outside Europe and the United States of America.
    This could be done as follows;
    The Wildcard system should be expanded, but only players from outside Europe and the United States of America would be eligible for a wildcard or a captain’s pick.
    The Ryder Cup being held in Tokyo with Hideki Matsuyama representing whoever would be fortunate enough to pick this extraordinarily gifted golfer would indeed be worth a slight alteration to a system that causes controversy anyway.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Acushnet April 16, 23:34

    Do I spy a Scotty putter?

    Reply to this comment
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