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What we know about golf today after COVID

What we know about golf today after COVID

Let’s go back in time. It is January 20th, 2020. The Sunbelt is playing lots of rounds as the industry gets ready for another PGA Merchandise Show. There is nothing extraordinary on the calendar at the club beyond wondering about the final 2019 numbers and how they might grow 3-4% in 2020. Fast forward to March 30th, and the world has gone dark. The pandemic has set in and this country, like the rest of the planet, is scrambling, looking for answers on how to protect lives and really, protect a way of life. It is a time we have never seen before. Unlike other catastrophes, this pandemic is surrounding the entire globe with an invisible yet deadly virus. At this moment, March 30th, 2020, there is no cure, no go-forward plan. The instructions: stay at home and when you must go shopping wear a mask and stay six feet away from anyone and everyone.

We are now back. It is May 2024, and the pandemic is behind us. For the golf operator, the world moved from a place of absolute fear to a place where it felt like everyone now wanted to be your friend, promising to be your best customer. Golf was hot! No, it was warmer than hot. If you haven’t done a review of this period, it may make for a good study. This post is about what we know today, right now about the business. It has gone through glorious times but with ugly migraines, back pain, and palpable stress throughout these four years. In this In My Opinion post, I will touch on three things we know today about the industry:

There were more than 530 million rounds of golf played in the U.S. in 2023: It is a truly amazing number, one I hope the game can reach again. With the old average being in the ballpark of 441-443 million rounds per year, the 2023 number simply says WOW. It is especially earthshaking when you consider that rates were largely higher across the country as people continued their addiction to the sport. What a life-changing time.

Just as with every other industry, golf is going through a talent crisis: Busy times produce great burnout, and Boomers are moving away from careers at an alarming rate. These changes will continue to leave grand holes in many a work schedule. Finding talent, developing talent, and paying for that talent is a very different conversation in 2024 than it was even in 2019. Talent is leaving the game in large numbers as people look to work from home or just not work when the rest of America is on vacation or simply taking the weekend to clean the garage.

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