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A Publication of the National Golf Foundation

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

Studying Golf Consumers: COVID-19
As Financial Outlooks Improve in Late May, Spending Remains in Check

by National Golf Foundation

May 2020

As of late May, the NGF’s ongoing consumer research indicates that the personal financial outlooks for golfers continue to improve, although spending habits remain largely unchanged amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In the most recent surveys of “core golfers” (defined as U.S. adults who’ve played a minimum of eight rounds of golf in the past 12 months), 22% said they expect to be in worse or considerably worse position financially in the future. In early April, 40% of core golfers expressed a similar sentiment.

(Image source: National Golf Foundation)


The financial outlook for golfers is, on average, a bit more optimistic than the average American.

This is in part because of a general skew in affluence (household income for core golf consumers is more than 50% higher than the average U.S. household), and also because of a skew in age and career stage (roughly one quarter are retired — 33% higher than non-golfers). While the graphic above shows a modest but positive shift in outlook over the past six weeks, spending remains tight.

That said, it’s noteworthy that the majority of golfers say their belt-tightening behaviors are attributable to not being able to go out and spend like usual.

In general economic terms, the most important determinant for consumer spending is disposable income. When consumers have more, they tend to spend more — on both goods and services. As such, it would be unusual (under normal circumstances) to see both healthy financial outlooks and suppressed spending. The assumption has been that financial belt-tightening is more forced than elective, but NGF researchers sought to quantify the cause(s) by asking golfers to attribute their decreases in spending.

As it turns out, the majority of controlled spending is attributable to business and societal shutdowns, and the resulting inability to spend. This could be good news for the golf business if golfers begin to shift more of their discretionary spending away from things like travel, dining and entertainment.

Source: National Golf Foundation

Core golfers are of particular interest when studying golf behaviors and consumption because they account for account for almost 90% of all golf spend.

Approximately 500 adults selected from NGF’s opt-in research panel have been sampled each week during the coronavirus era, a sample that is representative of core golfers.


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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.

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