By Mark Khan

Did you know one of the biggest business deals in history occurred on a golf course? Mark Khan delves into the possibilities of big deals and big drives.

In New York in 1901, the most powerful financier of the time, J.P. Morgan bought Andrew Carnegie’s steel company for $480 million, which would be $13 billion in today’s dollars. Carnegie was at first not interested in selling, but after winning a round against his CEO, Charles Schwab, he agreed to sell. Schwab relayed the information to J.P. Morgan, who accepted it, and a few days later personally closed the deal.

Golf as a platform can be a great way to make connections and grow your business with people involved in an activity that brings them great pleasure. I have been around the sport of golf in Vietnam for the past 20 years, with the good fortune of being a consultant to some of the world’s leading brands in capturing the hearts and wallets of high net-worth individuals. The golf industry is a fertile ground to promote your business, and the demographics of golfers in Vietnam are very attractive.


Golf is a growing industry in Vietnam, with foreign and local investors continue to pour money into developing golf courses. Over 70,000 people play the game regularly at the country’s 52 golf courses. The market is still relatively small compared to neighbouring countries. Thailand, for example, has 600,000 golfers and over 250 golf courses. Notably, Vietnam’s master plan allows for many more courses to be developed. The expectation is a total of 90 courses, with several featuring the development of adjoining real estate property which remains a lucrative attraction to savvy investors.

Let’s look at the demographics of the 2,000 players who participated in golf events sponsored by my clients, which includes banks, real estate companies, automobile, and premium lifestyle brands:

95% are male, 5% female with an age range of 30 to 64.

85% will participate in an event if a business colleague or friend is invited. 70% are Vietnamese, the rest are Korean, Japanese and other expatriates. 30% are self-employed, owner, joint venture partner or director level of a company.

60% own one or multiple homes outside their birthplace. 30% have a comparable lifestyle to other Asian cities with six-digit USD annual income.

60% have a child or relative who has studied overseas.

There are certain approaches and techniques to help you reach this valuable niche market. For example, one client who owns several luxury automobile dealerships was successful with a combination of targeted marketing, magazine advertorials, integrated online media channels and carefully curated events to attract, engage and delight customers. We were able to reach and convert customers willing to spend a minimum of VND 1.5 billion on a car. Best of all, the cost for reaching this audience was comparatively less than a traditional advertising campaign, largely because we tailored the message and developed a plan to optimize the client’s investment in marketing directly to golfers.


Targeting an audience that includes those with considerable disposable income requires a marketer to reach inside the minds of this niche audience to understand their value system and to appreciate what they seek, want and need. Therefore, you must have access to specialized consumer information. Regardless of your product or service, you should have reliable data to verify their ability to afford your product or service, and their inclination to want it. Such data includes the type of disposable income, as in the price they pay for club membership, the car they drive, and the value of the real estate where they own their primary home.

Knowing how to reach this audience is the key to success. Most important is developing trust by knowing how to engage these customers in meaningful activities on and off the golf course. Fortunately, you don’t have to play golf to use it as an effective business marketing tool. The Business Executive Network and its partners are invaluable resources to help you launch a successful campaign to grow your business through golf. Most of us may not be as lucky as Carnegie, who got $480 million for his company; however, I hope you are inspired to explore opportunities with people who share a common passion for golf and business. [C]

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