Golf’s surge in popularity over COVID-19 pandemic

Why has Golf suddenly surged in popularity over the COVID-19 Pandemic?

For a sport that had been struggling over the last decade, golf has spiked in popularity over the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2019 to 2020, there has been an increase of 500,000 golfers, which is over a 2% increase from the previous 24.3 million golfers in 2019. Reportedly, the number for new players numbered 6.2 million, which is the highest number golf has ever seen. Which begs the question: Why?

As the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world and everything closed, including golf courses, people found themselves unprepared and ill-equipped to spend their days at home. As the days went by, the CDC figured that the virus’s ability to spread outdoors was not strong, as fresh air is constantly flowing, dispersing the water droplets that cause the transmission of COVID-19. Thus, golf courses were allowed to reopen. Golf immediately became the perfect COVID-19 remedy; a socially distanced, non-contact sport, where each player only touches his or her own clubs, cart, and ball. Furthermore, experts agreed that golf carries very little risk of spreading COVID-19. Moreover, golf can be great for your mental health, as getting out for four hours to play with your family and friends is much healthier than sitting on your couch at home. It was really one of the few things that were open, which made those who had played the sport in the past get right back into it, and those who hadn’t learned want to. This resurgence in golf was really unexpected, but extremely necessary for the $85 billion industry, As stated by the Wall Street Journal, “After overdevelopment in the 1980s and 1990s, golf communities have struggled in recent years as participation in the costly and time-consuming sport declined, forcing many courses to close. Golf participation peaked in 2001 with roughly 30 million people; by 2017 it had dropped to approximately 24 million, according to the National Golf Foundation.” Golf had not seen this number of golfers since the emergence of Tiger Woods, who is arguably one of the most famous athletes of all time. Tiger Woods’s success on the course translated to success for the golf industry. On that note, Golf in 2020 was “Tiger Woods good,” and many are calling it “a year of resurgence.” In addition, women golfers were a large part of the 2020 surge, increasing over 8 percent, which translates to 450,000 new golfers. Now, women golfers make up for almost a quarter of all golfers, which historically, is an incredible feat.

Similarly, the golf equipment industry flourished. March and April of 2020 saw a 31% decrease in sales due to shutdowns. However, the months that followed emulated that of the successes on the golf course. Second to only 2008 when Tiger Woods was at the peak of his career and winning tournaments by margins never heard of before, the second quarter of the 2020 year of total sales of clubs and balls were at $2.9 billion, matching the entire year of 2019. While the golf equipment companies understand that their sales won’t stay at this level, they believe that the strides the sport has taken in 2020 will leave a lasting effect on golf for many years to come.




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