NATIONAL GOLF FOUNDATION
Week of JUNE 1 UPDATE
JUNE 2 UPDATE
Golf Consumer Sentiment Tracking: Wave 9
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.
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.
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.
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.
Q. Currently, what is the closest you feel comfortable getting to other people (including friends) who live outside your own home?
• 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.
Golf exists in many ways and many places. One extreme is on display with the return of live, competitive golf in sunny Southern Florida. Meanwhile, more than 4,000 miles away, on a small island on Alaska’s inside passage, Muskeg Meadows is preparing for a noteworthy tournament of its own.Read More
For facilities allowing play amid the coronavirus crisis, the following is a rundown of efforts to provide a safe environment for customers and employees.Read More
Mike Ehrmann was also one of the select golf “fans” on site for the recent TaylorMade Driving Relief charity event at Seminole Golf Club. The Getty photographer was also responsible for perhaps the most iconic image of professional golf during the coronavirus era. Here’s how it happened.Read More