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A Publication of the National Golf Foundation

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

NATIONAL GOLF FOUNDATION

COVID-19 UPDATE

Week of JUNE 1 UPDATE
UPDATED

An estimated 84% of off-course golf retail stores are now open, up from 81% last week and 61% three weeks ago as more states continue ease restrictions on retail and other businesses. This is the equivalent of 85% of the total off-course square footage.

In early April, 96% of the 6.5 million square feet of total off-course golf specialty space had been closed to in-store traffic.

Independent/regional retailers are open at a slightly higher rate (86%) than the national stores (84%) such as PGA Tour Superstore, Golf Galaxy and Worldwide Golf Shops.

Open (as of June 1)

Closed or temporarily suspending foot traffic (as of June 1)

 

Retail Map Trend 2020_05_04

More than 3/4 of pro shops are open

While some states still have mandates in place that require pro shops and clubhouses to remain closed to customer traffic, the percentage of pro shops open for business climbed from 64% to 77% in the past week. This doesn't necessarily mean they're fully open, as some may have limitations on occupancy.

Given that there are more than 14,000 golf facilities in the U.S., green grass pro shops collectively comprise about twice the total square footage of off-course golf retail stores.

Almost 80% of courses now have F&B service

Approximately 79% of open golf courses report having an operational food & beverage service, up from 67% last week.

Not unlike limitations at pro shops and clubhouses, F&B restrictions still remain in place at many facilities. While some are operating restaurants in some capacity and/or beverage carts on the course, others are restricted to only grab-and-go service.

Source: National Golf Foundation
Source: National Golf Foundation

And so we're seeing a gradual return to off-course golf stores

Source: National Golf Foundation
Source: National Golf Foundation
JUNE 2 UPDATE

NGF RESEARCH

Golf Consumer Sentiment Tracking: Wave 9

0 respondents

Our ongoing consumer research focuses on golf's best customers - known to us as "Core golfers" and defined as U.S. adults who've played a minimum of eight rounds of golf in the past 12 months. These golfers account for almost 90% of all golf spend and therefore are of particular interest when studying golf behaviors and consumption. The map above shows the locations of over 4,400 study respondents to date. Online surveys have been conducted March 31-April 3, April 9-11, April 14-16, April 21-23, April 27-30, May 4-7, May 12-14, May 21-22 and May 27-28, 2020. Approximately 500 adults selected from our opt-in panel were surveyed each time. Sample is considered to be representative of Core golfers.

Trends in online search support anecdotal evidence pointing to golf's recent surge in popularity and activity.

Google trends logo 2
Data source: Google

Golfers and course operators corroborate an uptick in May participation

88% of surveyed courses indicate that their rounds-played in May was the same or higher than normal for this time of the year, backing up anecdotal reports that golf engagement has been strong during the past month. Only 12% report rounds were below normal, which also is understandable given operational limitations in certain areas, be it a lack of carts due to one-rider rules or tee time intervals that are more spread out than usual.

While on a net basis approximately one quarter of golfers say they’ll play more and one-third of operators are observing more rounds, this doesn’t necessarily mean the number of rounds played for the month will see a rise of a similar percentage.

Source: National Golf Foundation
Source: National Golf Foundation

The proportion of Core golfers with a considerably worse financial outlook is now half what it was two months ago (11% vs. 22%). Given this, plus the build-up in golf demand and the fact that there are fewer ways to put leisure money to work right now, golf seems primed to capture a greater share of discretionary spending. 

As the pandemic wears on, the outlook seems to improve for golf, with fewer Core golfers showing serious financial vulnerability, and many of them continuing to add to their discretionary budgets (either by decision or because of the limitations in leisure spend created by business shutdowns/regulations).

Alongside this is the mounting evidence (both anecdotal and empirical, like Google Trends above) that demand for the game is now higher than it's been in years. The obvious question becomes: can/will golf take advantage of these favorable conditions - not just with increased play, but with increased soft and hard good spending as well. The answer there remains unclear.

Source: National Golf Foundation
Source: National Golf Foundation

Just over half (53%) of Core golfers show a continued willingness to maintain a safe distance – consistent with a recent national Gallup poll suggesting 57% of Americans feel very confident that social distancing saves lives.

This measure is a bit of a Catch-22 -- you'd of course prefer that people respect distancing guidelines, but at the same time there is a heavy economic cost to distance anxiety and mitigation efforts to slow the spread. The minimal hope here -- selfishly, you could say -- is that golfers at least respect these spacing guidelines at the golf course, as official opinions on golf’s safety as a recreational activity can change based on golfer and operator behaviors.

Source: National Golf Foundation
Source: National Golf Foundation

Q. Currently, what is the closest you feel comfortable getting to other people (including friends) who live outside your own home?

LATEST

Based on surveys of 387 golf facilities conducted the week of May 25-May 31, accurate to +/- 1.

0 unique facility verifications to date.

Currently open

Not yet open or operations suspended temporarily

Non-sampled golf facilities

The map above represents a sample of approximately 10% of all golf courses in the U.S., and is intended to provide perspective as to the geography of courses that are either open or have temporarily suspended golf operations.

While not representative of a complete view of golf course availability, it is the most nationally representative sample of courses available in the industry -- one that includes daily fee, private, municipal, resort and residential communities.

2 1/2-Month Trend in Course Openings

Less than 50% of golf courses were open to play for more than a month during the height of the coronavirus pandemic -- a combination of governmental efforts (state and local) to reduce the spread of the virus as well as seasonality (wintry weather in the northernmost parts of the country).

The percentage steadily increased from the last week of April through mid-May as more than a dozen states lifted bans on golf while others -- most notably California and Florida -- eased significant local restrictions. No states restrict play, though some golf courses (an increasingly limited number) still remain closed in a few metropolitan areas, including New York City and Chicago.

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"We are encouraged that the overwhelming majority of golf courses, both in the US and around the world, are re-opening for play with golf retail shops not far behind. While the golf industry will clearly be disrupted throughout 2020, we are confident that the underlying fundamentals of the game, with its outdoor field of play and ease of social distancing, will position the game of golf on solid ground for the future.”

Acushnet President and CEO David Maher

“Outdoor recreation is one of the best things we can do to promote physical, mental and emotional well-being... during a time of great stress and isolation,” 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

“It’s important for us to stay active and enjoy the outdoors while preventing the spread of COVID-19. This measure will allow Minnesotans to take advantage of more opportunities to get outside, while still doing their part to keep their neighbors healthy.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz 

"As we successfully continue to flatten the curve to protect our physical health, it is critical that we also focus on our physical and mental health during these extraordinary times,"

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf

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