Survey: 95% of U.S. golf courses are open; retailers and pro shops also rising

US Golf State Map
National Golf Foundation

The results of the National Golf Foundation (NGF) weekly survey ending May 17 on the current state of the U.S. golf industry found 95% of all golf courses in the U.S. are now open for play. This is an uptick from 91% last week and a huge jump from just 44% over a month back. Since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NGF has received 8,310 unique golf facility verifications to date.

The percentage of courses open for play has gradually increased week by week from late April through mid-May as more than a dozen states rescinded bans on golf while others – including the golf-rich states of California and Florida – have significantly eased local restrictions.

As of May 17, none of the 50 states are now restricting play, although several major metropolitan areas including New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C. are not allowing their respective courses to open yet.

The survey also found roughly 73% of off-course golf retail locations are now open for business (in terms of overall square footage). This is the equivalent of 75% of all actual outlets including both national stores and independent/regional retailers. In early April, 96% of the 6.5 million square feet of all off-course golf specialty space had been closed to in-store customer traffic.

Independent and regional retailers have opened at a somewhat higher clip (77%) than the 71% of national chains, including PGA Tour Superstore, Golf Galaxy and Worldwide Golf Shops.

Open pro shop space is now nearing 9 million square feet. Pro shops at nearly 66% of all golf courses around the country have reopened, though many have limitations in place such as the number of customers permitted in at a given time. With more than 14,000 golf facilities in the U.S., green grass pro shops collectively comprise about twice the total square footage of the off-course golf retail outlets.

The survey also found that while retail continues to reopen in numerous sectors of the golf economy, almost half of core golf consumers still express some level of concern with returning to course pro shops and golf retail stores.

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About the Author
David Wood is an author, world traveler and former stand-up comedian with several David Letterman Show appearances under his belt. A few years back, he took a one-year sabbatical to travel to exotic golf locales around the globe. He turned the adventure into the critically acclaimed book Around the World in 80 Rounds.” His new golf video blog “Have Clubs Will Travel” is featured on The Morning Read. He resides in New York City.