The NGF’s latest nationwide survey of U.S. golf facilities shows that 97% were open to play as of the week beginning June 1, a month and a half after more than 50% of the nation’s courses were closed either due to the coronavirus, seasonality or a combination of the two.
As state and local governments look to offer a safe and healthy activity for residents amid the ongoing pandemic, the percentage of courses open has increased for eight consecutive weeks, but is now tapering off as almost all facilities now allow play again.
It’s now three weeks since any states have had restrictions on golf operations, as New Hampshire was the last to allow its courses to reopen on May 11. In total, more than a dozen states lifted bans on golf from the last week of April through mid-May, while others — most notably California and Florida, the nation’s two best-supplied golf states — eased significant local restrictions.
While golf is open, cautionary operational restrictions are still fairly widespread, from modified cups and one-rider carts to limitations on food & beverage service or pro shop and club house access. Course owners and operators must continue to adhere to local requirements, and golfers should be reminded they’re playing before the largest galleries of their lives to help show that golf can lead the way for participation sports to gradually resume while still in the midst of a serious pandemic.
The biggest surge in course openings occurred primarily in late April and early May, with the percentage of open courses topping 90% three weeks ago. In the past two weeks, the percentage again increased slightly from 95% to 98% as a few more courses reopened for play, predominantly resort and municipal.
Across all facility types, the percentage of courses that are now open to play is inching closer to 100%. There remain some noteworthy holdouts in major metropolitan areas such as New York City and Chicago, where courses are still shut down for the time being, although two of the three courses operated by Washington D.C. have restarted play.
In mid-April, as many as 19 states had statewide restrictions or significant local bans on golf — predominantly in the more densely-populated states in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region and on the West Coast.
NGF researchers have accumulated more than 8,700 unique facility validations to date, with a sampling error of +/- 1% 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.
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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