US Golf Course Openings Top 90% as Retail Continues Comeback

Jupiter, Florida, United States: The National Golf Foundation’s (NGF) seventh week of nationwide surveys found that 91% of US golf courses were open last week amid the on-going Coronavirus pandemic, with all 50 States now allowing golf to be played.

Since the last week of April, a dozen States have lifted Statewide bans on golf while others – most notably California and Florida – have eased significant local restrictions.

There are still some local government orders keeping golf closed in metro areas like New York City, Washington DC and Chicago, but the latest projection from NGF researchers indicate 95% of courses will be open for at least some level of play by next week. In early April, only 44% of courses were open and as many as 19 States had noteworthy limitations on golf operations last month.

The most notable change last week was among municipal golf facilities, which jumped to 92% open from 66% a week earlier.

“While it’s encouraging to see the golf business making a comeback, this isn’t business as usual, not from the standpoint of golf course operations, or from golfers’ compliance and responsibility. Golf course operators have specific safety protocols to follow, as do golfers,” said NGF President and CEO Joe Beditz.

“Golf has been given the go-ahead because it’s considered a relatively safe activity when social distancing is maintained and other precautions are followed. But make no mistake, what has been given can be taken away. It’s now up to both golf course operators and golfers to keep golf open. Bad behaviour will get noticed, and possibly recorded on a smartphone,” he added.

Golf retail, both on and off-course, is also coming back. The latest facility polling indicates that 52% of pro shops are open for business nationally, up from 36% last week even as states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey and Illinois have government mandates requiring pro shops to remain closed. Among golf facilities open for play, approximately 57% now have pro shops that are open – the equivalent of about seven million total square feet.

Additionally, an estimated 59% of off-course golf retail locations are open (in terms of square footage), up from 39% a week ago. In early April, 96% of the 6.5 million square feet of off-course golf specialty space had been closed to in-store traffic. Relatedly, golf consumer anxiety – emotional and financial – is easing.

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