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Golf trends

A HEALTHY PROGNOSIS

A year of the coronavirus pandemic has sparked an unexpected and remarkable increase in the popularity of golf By Michael LoRé

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very aspect of life was seemingly put on pause in March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic was officially declared. Companies told employees to work from home indefinitely, restaurants halted dine-in service, gyms and fitness studios went virtual, and countless businesses were forced to close their doors. The sports industry also felt the wrath of COVID-19, with the NBA suspending play on March 11 that year. Like a set of dominoes, the NHL, MLS, MLB, NASCAR, UFC and PGA TOUR all began to shut down one by one. With people confined to their homes, fitness and entertainment options—especially those that could be done safely—were limited. What rose from the ashes wasn’t a phoenix, but instead it was birdies and eagles.

The golf boom Golf experienced a boom, which the industry hadn’t seen at such a scale since Tiger Woods burst onto the scene in 1996 resulting in a 13.9% increase in play from 2019 with approximately 500 million rounds played in 2020—60 million more than in 2019. Play at private clubs was up 19.9% year-overyear, while public facilities experienced a 12.4% increase in rounds, according to Golf Datatech. “People saw the value in golf again and got out there to play with family or close friends in their ‘bubble’,” said Erik Matuszewski, Editorial Director at the National Golf Foundation. 38  PGA TOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE  June – December 2021

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Golf took an initial hit in March and April as government officials enacted stay-at-home mandates and anxieties around the pandemic grew. But as temperatures began to rise in May and June, so did interest in golf; there were double-digit percentage increases in rounds played each month for the remainder of the year, with a 56.6% increase in November 2020 compared to the prior year.

Increasing demand With an increase in interest came the need for equipment, whether it was experienced golfers investing more money into their game or new entrants into the sport seeking their first set of clubs. U.S. equipment retail sales topped $1 billion from July through September, an alltime Q3 record since Golf Datatech started its trend tracking in 1997. “There weren’t a lot of activities available during a pandemic and lockdown, but golf was one of the sports that remained open,” said Nick McInally, Vice President of Global Marketing at Callaway Golf. “People were able to enjoy an activity while being socially distant and responsible. There was a point where you couldn’t even get a tee time. “A lot of people said, ‘I want to invest time in me and upgrade my equipment.’” Callaway reported a record consolidated net sales of $375 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, a 20% increase from Q4 of 2019. Callaway and other golf brands and manufacturers as well as private clubs and public courses needed to pivot in order to w w w.p gat our.com

05/07/2021 12:16

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