It was “leap week” for golf operations, with the NGF’s latest nationwide survey finding that 79% of U.S. courses were open to play as of the week ending May 3.
The surge was significant, up from 58% a week ago as Illinois, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Mexico, Maine and Hawaii allowed courses to reopen on May 1 and New Jersey followed a day later. Between them, those states have a combined 2,100 golf courses. On top of that, an increasing number of California counties continued to lift restrictions on golf and additional courses opened over the past week in states such New York, Wisconsin and Michigan.
The upward trajectory is projected to continue in the coming weeks. Washington allowed courses to reopen on March 5, with Vermont following on March 7. New Hampshire will reopen its golf courses on May 11 and additional courses in other states will continue to welcome back golfers after having been closed for a variety of reasons, from local mandates or seasonality to preparation and planning requirements.
Only two states currently have restrictions on play: Maryland and Massachusetts.
NGF researchers have accumulated almost 8,000 unique facility validations to date, with a sampling error of +/- 2% for the ongoing weekly polling. The research reflects the most nationally representative sample of courses currently available, one that includes daily fee, private, municipal, resort and residential communities.
While all facility types saw notable increases in openings, the biggest jump was in the municipal golf ranks, with 49% more munis operational last week than the week prior.
Also noteworthy are the regional changes.
With the reopening of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, there was little question the most significant momentum would be in the Mid Atlantic region, where the week-over-week change was 221%. Three-quarters of courses in the region reported being open last week and its likely more will be operational in the next survey, assuming state officials don’t reverse their decision.
All nine census regions showed a double-digit percentage increase in openings over the past week.
Another significant change was in the East North Central, where 90% of courses in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois were open, up 51% from the previous week.
For more in-depth research and insight on the coronavirus impact on the golf industry, click here to visit the NGF’s webpage for special COVID-19 updates.
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