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A Publication of the National Golf Foundation

Questions, Answers and Insights for Everyone Interested in the Business of Golf

Coronavirus Effects Throughout the Golf Business

by National Golf Foundation

March 2020

The NGF has been reaching out to representatives of the Top 100 Businesses in Golf as well as other golf companies and organizations to assess how the ongoing pandemic has affected business to this point.

Based on initial responses, 93% of companies and associations report that the majority of their employees are now working remotely, with a particular mention of marketing, sales, administration and communications. Of those, almost one-third have all employees working remotely. At the time of the surveys, only 7% of responding companies — mostly in less-populated states in the Midwest — indicated that all employees were still working at headquarters or their primary location, although in some instances shifts were staggered to reduce interaction.

The following is a snapshot of general findings from ongoing engagement with companies in several verticals within the golf industry. These findings don’t pertain to all businesses within a particular category, but are intended to present an overview of feedback received at this time.

MANAGEMENT COMPANIES (MCOs)

The coronavirus pandemic has had a notable impact on MCOs, some of which are trying to keep up with ever-changing rules, regulations and mandates on golf operations that can vary widely from state to state. Even in states where a stay at home order is in place or there’s a restriction on non-essential businesses, exceptions are being made for outside golf operations. Temporary shutdowns continue at a growing percentage of golf facilities across the country, prompting many operators to look into federal legislation and relief options for the golf industry.

RETAIL

Major golf retailers nationwide have temporarily shut their doors, putting a strain on suppliers down the chain. Approximately 100 Golf Galaxy stores nationwide temporarily shut their doors as parent company DICK’S Sporting Goods temporarily closed all its retail locations through at least April 2. Worldwide Golf Shops temporarily closed all of its 83 retail locations, while PGA TOUR Superstore has shut down all in-store shopping through April 2. Golf Galaxy and PGA TOUR Superstore offer curbside pickup service — in states in which it’s permitted — for customers who place orders online, while continuing to sell online.

A nationwide survey of independent golf retailers shows that at least 33 percent remain open to customers.

GOLF EQUIPMENT COMPANIES (OEMs)

Companies have noted a substantial impact on production, including the shutdown of several manufacturing facilities in states like California and Massachusetts that have executive orders in place requiring residents to stay at home or limiting non-essential business activity. Even in other states or cities without those restrictions in place, some plants report operating with a “skeleton crew” to keep production going or encountering substantial delays in manufacturing that’s done outside the U.S.

Assembly and distribution of golf clubs is also being significantly affected, especially in states that have government-mandated shutdowns. The temporary closure of national golf retail stores and other outlets has also impacted OEMs, as has the cancellation or postponement of tournaments directly tied to planned product launches. Some equipment manufacturers are using expanded e-commerce as an option.

SHAFT COMPANIES

Most companies note a significant impact on operations, including some notices from partners/OEMs to hold all shipments temporarily, while having to suspend some production and product testing, both domestically and overseas.

APPAREL / ACCESSORY

A domino effect is causing a noticeable impact in this category, with a robust supply chain currently stalled leading to order cancellations and delays. Some companies are affected by the government orders that have put stringent limitations on businesses, while others report that even if they were able to distribute inventory, there’s nowhere for it to go given the temporary closure of retail outlets.

CLUB-FITTERS AND INSTRUCTION

Club-fitting and instructional locations have been impacted severely, with a rash of temporary location closures across the country. While layoffs are a possibility, there’s a strong push by some companies and individuals to move instruction capability online, including putting new software in place that allows coaches to interact with students from home.

GOLF ENTERTAINMENT

Topgolf and Drive Shack have shut down all golf entertainment venues in the U.S., complying with government mandates on mass gatherings. Other similar companies have followed suit in the golf-entertainment space, which has been among the fastest-growing forms of engagement with the game in recent years.

ASSOCIATIONS

Golf’s major associations have taken a hit, understandably, especially those that hold major tournaments which account for a significant portion of revenue, and are continuing to adapt. The PGA TOUR, PGA of America, USGA and LPGA have the majority of their staffs working remotely amid a rash of event and tournament cancellations and postponements, while other industry associations, including the National Golf Course Owners Association and Golf Course Superintendents Association, actively continue to keep members informed and advocate for their interests during the ongoing crisis.

GOLF MEDIA

GOLF Channel is broadcasting primarily pre-packaged footage with all tournament golf canceled through at least May, and is working toward a more thematic approach to programming for the coming weeks. Several golf media outlets report strong digital traffic growth – not all virus-related – particularly in the service and lifestyles categories as passionate golfers seek “an escape.”

TURF AND COURSE SUPPLIERS

Even the most restrictive government orders concerning operations allow for businesses to operate in a minimal way to protect assets and or inventory. In golf’s case, this means at least periodic mowing, maintenance and ongoing treatment of turf grass and other issues central to its most vital asset. Turf care and chemical companies are seeing less of an immediate hit as a result, but some anticipate potential supply chain issues. A number of companies that provide essential course products – from tee markers and flags to water coolers, ball washers and the like – are reporting a decline in production.

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National Golf Foundation

The National Golf Foundation is a community of individuals and golf businesses committed to being the most well-informed advocates for the growth of the industry. With the world’s largest research team dedicated to golf, NGF provides members with the most accurate and objective insights on the game. We help golf businesses better understand their market and grow their businesses. The NGF is the only association for everyone in golf, and we advocate for growth by educating and connecting our members.

NGF Takeaways

NGF COVID-19 IMPACT

SPECIAL UPDATE

For the NGF’s latest research and information about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the golf industry, please click here.