Survey: Golf course, retail outlet openings continue to surge

U.S. Golf course heat map - May 27 2020
National Golf Foundation

Data secured from the National Golf Foundation’s (NGF) weekly industry survey ending May 25 found the percentage of courses allowing play is now up to 97% and nearing full capacity. The NGF has received 8,595 verifications from golf facilities to date.

Perhaps most significant is the anecdotal discovery of participation growth among beginning golfers as well as those who have drifted away from the game but are now getting back on a course with clubs in tow. The sport is proving ideal for outdoor recreation while maintaining state and local social distancing guidelines.

Course operators additionally report seeing a surge of “new faces” at their respective facilities with a significant increase in consumer purchases of beginner box sets of clubs. These trends could bode well for future golf participation growth when the pandemic wanes.

The weekly findings also found off-course retail outlets continuing to reopen in greater numbers with four out of five now permitting in-store shopping. Interestingly, the percentage of open pro shops has plateaued over the past two weeks at 66%. This is perhaps due to government mandates still in place in 10 states for pro shops, clubhouses, and food and beverage outlets to remain closed to consumer traffic. Many clubs are offering window and curbside service as a makeshift measure.

The financial golf consumer front continues to show positive signs, as roughly 81% of off-course golf retail stores are now open. This is an increase from just 61% open for business two weeks back as more states ease restrictions on retail and other businesses. In early April as the scope of the pandemic became clear, 96% of the overall 6.5 million square feet of off-course golf specialty space had been closed to in-store traffic. The survey also found 12% of all golfers have visited a golf store in the past two weeks.

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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.