Golfers around the world who may have been worried about the game losing its popularity have an unexpected foe to thank for a recent boon to the game we all love – the Coronavirus. Australia and Great Britain join this country in celebrating full tee sheets, burgeoning lesson rosters and increases in memberships.
It’s easy to see the reasons why. Golf is an outdoor activity and social distancing is relatively easy to maintain. And at a time when we search for some degree of normalcy, golf is one area where we can abide by the new normal that permeates every aspect of our lives.
And as many of us are foregoing family vacations and sports camps this summer, the golf course is filling that void and providing a safe environment for families to grab some quality time together.
In a recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, 41 percent of Americans stood behind the reopening of their local courses. To put that in perspective, that number was higher than any other type of business identified in the polling.
GolfNow, an online tee time reservation site, reported than between April 23 and May 5, the number of rounds sold online at public golf courses that remained open during the lockdown were up 60 percent over the previous year.
Even though lockdown orders have been lifted and many courses have re-opened, tee sheets remain full.
In a Washington Post article published last month, ClubCorp, which owns or operates 173 private golf or country clubs around the country, said their rounds are up 25 to 30% over the prior year.
“Every day seems to be booked at our courses,” said CEO of the Minnesota Section PGA Jeff “JD” Drimel. “In the big scheme of things, we’re finding rounds are up 20 to 30% across the board. Tee sheets are busy from when the courses open in the morning through the evening.”
Fillmore Fairways, a 9-hole pay-per-play course in Cascade, IA, recorded “incredible numbers” of rounds since it was allowed to open on March 24.
Private clubs are feeling the love too. Chris Thomson, Director of Golf at Wilderness Ridge in Omaha, NE, said his tee sheets are full every day. Wilderness Ridge, a 27-hole semi-private club, remained open during the initial three-month lockdown around most of the country.
“People have more time on their hands. Some were off from work and had more ability to play,” Thomson said.
“We also have so many people looking for lessons,” said Thomson, who recently polled a golf class to find that 50% of the participants were starting the game and the other half were coming back to it.
“Have you checked out Facebook and Twitter lately?” Drimel joked. “We’ve never seen more picture of families playing golf.”
Drimel said his junior golf events are so popular they have sold out in record time – even after he has added new ones to the calendar.
“What a great game for young people to learn and play the rest of their lives,” he added.
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There’s a reason why All Star Pro Golf recently started using the hashtag #RUReadyforGolf? Seems like a perfectly valid question considering all this extra play and the supplies needed to keep golfers golfing. How can we help?