Reading The Green Newsletter

Muni Golf's New Normal?

Golf across public, private and municipal sectors has been on a tear the past 10 months or so, and some might be wondering if it's going to last. We'll get straight to the point: Yes it is!

Community Golf Fan,

Golf across public, private and municipal sectors has been on a tear the past 10 months or so, and some might be wondering if it's going to last.

We'll get straight to the point: Yes it is!

The NGF gives us some good insight into recent trends in the industry, as noted below, but for us at Staples Golf, 'who's playing golf?' is what really matters. Zeroing in on the customer experience should be the takeaway for golf in 2021 and beyond!

The Run Down

~ Rounds ~

February 2021 rounds dipped from last year according to Golf Data Tech, but this shouldn't really be cause for concern. We tend to agree with Joe Beditz, the CEO of the NGF, as he points out in a recent article that weather played a big role;

“February is a relatively low-volume month, accounting for less than 5% of annual U.S. rounds, and year-to-year fluctuations are very weather-dependent... The weather this February was, generally, less agreeable for golf.”  

~ Retail ~

Golf equipment, private club memberships, and golf real estate all saw significant increases to end 2020. Equipment was up 10% over 2019, and private club memberships increased 19%. These are strong indicators for golf in 2021 maintaining its momentum, because these types of retail decisions have a long-term outlook.

~ Competition ~

As cases drop, vaccines become more prevalent, and more recreational options begin to open up, wondering how this will impact golf is a fair question. We think it may have some effect, but given how golf has proven itself in the eyes of so many newcomers to be extremely beneficial to health (during the height of a pandemic no less!), we truly believe golf is on the most solid ground it's been on in decades!

Who's Primarily Playing?

Deferring to the NGF once more, their February article “Who Wants In?”, paints a healthy picture of the golf surge in 2020, whcih can be attributed in part to newcomers across four main demographics; Youth (+630k), Beginners (+570k), Women (+450k), and Non-Caucasians (+320k). When offset by those who walked away from golf in 2020 over covid concerns, golf netted about 500,000 more participants than 2019.

If community golf wants to seize this opportunity while it lures back those who left, it must underscore what makes community golf so great in the first place; fun and memorable customer experiences! We know golf facilities that feel welcoming, are well maintained, and that are equitable across all skill-levels, is what these newcomers to the game want to experience, so let's give it to them!

We won't know for sure until next year how many of these newcomers decide to stick around, but community golf facilities should do whatever they can to put their best foot forward!

What you need to know:
  • Rounds are stable and will remain so, weather permitting
  • Golfers with discretionary funds are investing for the long-term
  • The health benefits of golf are proving out in a big way
  • It's crucial for community golf facilities to continually improve its offerings

We at Staples Golf see sustained, organic growth across multiple aspects of the industry, and are very optimistic interest in golf isn't going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

We want to thank you for your continued interest in Reading the Green, and remind you Staples Golf is always available to help your community golf course(s) seize this recent and historic momentum in golf!

Until next time, please take care of yourself and each other!

Andy Staples, ASGCA

Andy Staples

Andy Staples, ASCGA member and principal of Staples Golf Design, was brought to golf at the age of seven by his dad, having learned the game at West Bend Country Club, in West Bend, WI, a turn of the century course designed by Langford & Moreau.

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