When we were putting up our 2021 calendars a year ago, the pressing question from a golf industry perspective was can its momentum continue from the year before when COVID-19 took hold.
The pandemic had the industry concerned with the health and safety of golfers and staff members, but also forced safety protocols that affected food and beverage and pro shop operations, regulated the flow of members/customers on to the golf course and changed the way they played the game.
Due to it being an outdoor game, one in which social distancing could be accomplished, golf was one of the few activities available in 2020 and flourished, but with more and more entertainment and recreation venues opening again in 2021, could the industry’s momentum continue after the calendar flipped a year ago?
Several surveys and polls answer that question with a resounding yes.
In December, the National Golf Course Owners Association Canada’s monthly research reports showed national average rounds to that point up 9.1 per cent from the 2020 season and year-to-date revenues showed an increase of 20.2 per cent nationally over 2020.
The NGCOA wasn’t the only organization tracking rounds. The GNN Poll also asked readers every month to describe the rounds put through in 2021 compared to the same month a year earlier.
In the four months in which the polls were taken, the majority said rounds played were either the same, better or much better than in 2020.
In September, 49 per cent of respondents described the rounds where they work as better or much better than the same month in 2020 with 37 per cent saying better and 12 per cent saying much better. Another 24 per cent said rounds were about the same, with 27 per cent saying rounds were down compared to September, 2020.
For August, 41 per cent said rounds were better compared to the same month the year before, with another three per cent saying much better. Another 38 per cent said the same, with 18 per cent saying rounds were down compared to August, 2020.
In July, 35 per cent said rounds were better (19 per cent) or much better (16 per cent), with another 35 per cent saying they were down compared to the same month in 2020. Meanwhile, 30 per cent said their rounds were the same.
Half of respondents said June rounds were better or much better than a year earlier, with 27 per cent saying better and 23 per cent saying much better. Another 41 per cent said rounds were the same and nine per cent said down.
Rounds across the country did indeed continue to trend in the right direction in 2021 as golf remained a haven for those escaping the pandemic, inflation and other frustrating parts of life that show no signs of going away in the new year.
May the impact of the pandemic and its consequences lessen in 2022, while the upward trend in rounds played stays strong.