Jupiter, Florida, United States: The National Golf Foundation’s (NGF) fifth week of nationwide surveys found that approximately 58% of US golf courses were open for play last week amid the coronavirus pandemic. As State and county restrictions continue to be relaxed, this number could rise to 75% or higher by mid-May.
The changes last week were driven by two regions. The Mid-Atlantic US census region, which includes New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and their combined 1,900 golf courses, went from having less than one-in-20 courses open for play to almost one-in-four as more of New York’s 850+ courses continue to reopen.
And the Great Lakes States of Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois also approved golf courses to reopen with enhanced safety practices in place, including walking-only play.
Pennsylvania, Illinois and Washington will allow golf operations to resume next week, but don’t discount the notable county-level rulings either; Florida’s Palm Beach County, which gave approval for golf to resume yesterday, is home to more golf facilities than 11 US States.
“While course openings are increasing, restrictions on pro shops, cart usage and F&B operations will result in lower overall revenue per round for operators. For some, this reduction in revenue could be very challenging,” said NGF President and CEO Joe Beditz. “This is a reminder that while news of golf continuing to gain traction as a safe and healthy activity is encouraging, the industry is not out of the woods yet – by any means.”
On the consumer side, research shows that golfers’ overall anxiety about Covid-19 is slowly but steadily decreasing as infection and mortality numbers improve. Among the new core golfer findings this week: the ‘itch’ to watch live golf is almost as significant as the itch to play golf itself.