Jupiter, Florida, United States: The National Golf Foundation’s (NGF) sixth week of nationwide surveys found that 79% of US golf courses were open for play last week amid the coronavirus pandemic, a significant jump from 58% the previous week.
The biggest change was in the Mid-Atlantic US census region, where Pennsylvania and New Jersey – which have more than 1,000 courses between them – both permitted play to resume.
In total, seven states allowed golf courses to re-open on May 1 and 2, while an increasing number of California counties continued to lift restrictions on golf and additional courses opened over the past week in states such as New York, Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan.
“Having almost 80% of courses open for play is not the same as a ‘green light’ for golf. It’s much more of a ‘yellow light’,” said NGF President and CEO Joe Beditz. “There are still serious restrictions – for operators and golfers alike – including many State mandates prohibiting pro shops from opening, banning the use of golf cars, or restricting F&B operations.
“In a State like New Jersey with 16-minute tee-time intervals and twosomes, that’s eight people on the golf course an hour. That’s not yet ‘open’, and golf is probably being provided ‘below cost’ in some places where revenues are restricted to greens fees only.”
More doors are opening at specialty golf retailers, too, with accelerated store openings in certain geographies. An estimated 39% of retail locations and square footage is open, up from 17% of total square footage late last week.
But even as retail doors open, will golfers follow? NGF’s latest consumer research suggests many core golfers will continue to exercise caution and seek to avoid unnecessary exposure to virus risk.