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A ‘Rich Man’s Game’

Golf is still a “rich man’s game,” according to research by American Express Business Insights. Despite this, the recession dealt the sport a tough blow, with golf spending falling significantly during the downturn.

Fortunately, spending on golf is starting to recover, with the first signs of improvement showing up in the retail spending on items such as golf equipment and apparel. Retail sales grew 10 percent in the first quarter of 2011, compared with the same period a year ago, the study found.

But spending on the course has yet to recover fully. As consumers return to the sport, some interesting trends are emerging, such as a shift in the location of golf’s hot spots.

Several new regions have emerged as prime golfing destinations based on increases in spending at both public and private courses in their state.

Also, many of the states that typically receive the lion’s share of golf spending saw decreases in 2010, compared with the prior year.

Click ahead to see which states are gaining ground, and how much spending has changed in the top five states for golf spending, according to American Express.

By Christina Cheddar Berk
Posted 17 June 2011
Updated and Corrected20 June 2011

Photo: Karen D'Silva | The Image Bank | Getty Images