The National Golf Foundation has posted the results of its fifth national survey to assess the health of the golf industry since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data, which runs through April 26, indicates that 58% of U.S. golf courses are now open for play, a significant increase from the poll ending April 19 which found 47% of all courses open.
More good news for the industry: provided state, county and municipal restrictions continue to ease in the coming weeks, the NGF predicts the number could rise to 75% or higher of all U.S. golf facilities accepting play by mid-May.
Most of the survey uptick were dominated by two U.S. census regions – the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lake states. The Mid-Atlantic section is comprised of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The trio of heavily populated states combine for roughly 1,900 courses and rose from less than 1-in-20 open for play to approximately 1-in-4.
New York State municipal courses on Long Island – Bethpage (Red, Blue, Yellow and Green courses), Montauk Downs and Sunken Meadow – reopened for play on April 27 with social-distancing guidelines in place. The famous Black Course will join the other four Bethpage layouts with its 2020 reopening on May 1. Starting that day, four Bethpage courses will be open daily to the public.
The Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois also saw significant growth in course openings as warmer “golf weather” started to permeate the northern part of the U.S. and earlier golf restrictions were abated. Enhanced safety practices remain in place including “walking-only” play at some facilities.
NGF findings also highlighted that industry challenges remain. While course openings are increasing, restrictions on pro shop and cart usage as well as limited food and beverage operations will result in lower overall operator revenue per round. On the golf consumer side, the NGF also found overall anxiety concerning fears of the COVID-19 outbreak are decreasing.