NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The world golf equipment market has remained static in the last couple of years, as increased competition led to discounting and lowered revenues, while the economic recession lowered sales. Going forward, China and India will likely play key roles as the fastest-growing golf markets in the world.China currently has around one to three million players and is expected to top 20 million by 2020. The country has around 310 golf courses. India has around 700,000 players, and the golf bug has caught up with the broader population. The golf market is drawing in children, as young as five-years, keen to take up the sport as a career. The number is expected to grow to 30 million-40 million in the long run. India has about 250 golf courses. Junior golf is booming in both India and China, as it is being seen as a career opportunity akin to cricket or football. The Mission Hills Group, one of the largest golf courses in China, is partnering Greg Norman to coach youngsters. It is a non-profit initiative aimed at training a group of budding golfers for the 2016 Olympics, when golf will become a part of the roster. In India, although there is no such major coaching initiative, the success of players like Jeev Milkha Singh, ranked regularly among the top 50 golf players in the world, inspires children and parents to take up the sport as a genuine career option. The general population in both countries continues to look at golf as an elitist sport. However, even if a mere 2% of the population in each country takes up the sport, it will amount to a market of over several tens of millions in each country. Development of golf courses and resorts is mushrooming. In China, the Mission Hill Golf Group is at the forefront of construction, with many resorts having more than five courses each. One of these resorts, the club on Hainan Island, is hosting a pro-am tournament this October, where the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Phelps are expected to attend.
In India, golf tourism is very much in its infancy, but is growing at about 10%-15% annually and could soon turn into a lucrative business proposition. This is the outcome of the large-scale investments in golf courses and sports academies by India's major real estate developer DLF. The reason for the optimism is that even if both India and China only reach 1% of the size of the U.S. golf market (valued at $76 billion), it will be worth $760 million for each country. This is good news for golf equipment manufacturers such as Nike ( NKE), Titleist, TaylorMade (owned by Adidas), Callaway ( ELY) and Adams Golf ( ADGF).