The NGF’s latest nationwide facility survey showed 91% of U.S. courses were open to play as of the week ending May 10, as state and local governments offer a safe and healthy activity for residents amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Reopenings have surged each of the past three weeks, with the most recent jump spurred by Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington and Vermont allowing courses to reopen and major counties in California lifting restrictions on golf. A week ago, 79% of U.S. golf courses were open.
The most recent survey was conducted before New Hampshire became the last state to allow its courses to reopen on May 11. The upward trajectory is expected to increase as further courses reopen — provided golf courses and golfers adhere to required safety protocols.
Since April 24, 12 states have lifted restrictions on golf operations, clearing the way for as many as 4,400 courses to reopen for play. In addition, Los Angeles County and others in California continued to lift restrictions on golf.
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.
As of May 11, all state restrictions have been lifted.
NGF researchers have accumulated more than 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 increases in openings last week, the biggest jump by far was in the municipal golf ranks, with more than nine of ten munis now operational even with courses in major metropolitan areas such as New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C. remaining shut down for the time being.
From a regional perspective, California led a notable surge in the Pacific region, with reopenings in the state jumping from 46% to 86% in the past week. Additionally, Washington went from closed to 91% open.
The New England region also saw a noteworthy week-over-week increase after Vermont and Massachusetts courses began reopening on May 5. More courses will continue to open in the region over the next week with New Hampshire courses cleared to resume operations and additional courses just starting their seasons due to seasonality other reasons.
The change in the East South Central region (Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama) over the past week falls within the survey’s margin for error.
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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