The COVID-19 Pandemic has left few industries unaffected from a financial or operational perspective. However, while many businesses faced an overall negative impact on their ability to function this past year, some, like golf, grew in popularity. As an outdoor sport where participants could properly socially distance, golf became one of the first recreational activities to reopen after initial lockdown measures.
Even with lockdown periods that kept courses closed, the number of rounds played globally increased significantly. In the US, courses in 2020 saw an increase of 14%, according to statistics from the National Golf Foundation. This amounts to about 50 million more rounds played than in 2019, and a higher percentage increase in rounds played since Tiger Woods’ breakout year in 1997. Over the last 20 years, a 5% increase in rounds was considered a “big” jump, making 2020’s 14% increase remarkable despite the industry’s initial struggle when an estimated 20 million rounds were lost due to strict shutdowns in the spring.
Meanwhile, in the UK, courses dealt with the closures that created a temporary slump in rounds. However, when courses reopened in July, the number of rounds played through September 2020 increased by 59% compared with the same three-month period in 2019. What’s more, according to the 2020 Golf Operation Impact survey, a survey of golf course operators and managers, 55% of courses saw double-digit growth in rounds compared to 2019.