PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — The pandemic-spurred surge in golf over the last three years is bound to end at some point, but Ben Rodny believes it won’t end this coming golf season in the Coachella Valley.
“We’ve built our budget for this year and we are planning our business plan for next year on the expectations that things are going to continue to grow,” said Rodny, the director of sales and marketing at the Indian Wells Golf Resort.
From rounds played across the country to the number of golfers to the group sales business that resorts like the Indian Wells Golf Resort is seeing, golf has been a major beneficiary of the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down numerous activities including other sports.
The pandemic sparked a turnaround in golf, which had seen rounds played and the number of golfers dwindle for more than a decade. But the pandemic seemed to drive people outside to an activity that was allowed in most areas of the country. Twenty percent increases of rounds played were reported in 2020 and 2021, with smaller gains in 2022.
So far in 2023, the National Golf Foundation reports a 3.8 percent increase in rounds played through the end of September. But in the Palm Springs area, year-to-date rounds for 2023 are down 2.9 percent, a result of lost rounds because of weather such as August’s Tropical Storm Hilary, which shut down some courses for weeks with flood damage. In September, though, the NGF reported a 6.4 percent increase in Palm Springs area golf over the same month in 2022.
For many in the golf industry in the Coachella Valley, there are some signs that the surge, while not reversing, might be at least slowing down.
“We are planning for it to level,” said Kurt Burmeister, general manager of La Quinta Country Club. “We are seeing growth, but it’s not as aggressive growth as we have seen the last three years. But the signs for the season are similar to what we have seen the last three years.”
Even at the 36-hole Indian Wells Golf Resort, where rounds played were well over 400 a day in the 2022-23 season, Rodny says he is starting to see a few signs of a throttling back of the game’s growth.
“What I am noticing, particularly on the group side of the business, golf tournaments, smaller outings, is that there is some pushback on rates that is starting to happen that we did not see last year,” Rodny said. “Last year we could have quoted a million dollars and they just said please send me the contract. Now there is a bit…