A question on the minds of many in golf industry at the start of the season was whether the game could sustain or even surpass the popularity it enjoyed in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. even with more recreation and entertainment options becoming available and more people returning to work in 2021.
As the season winds down, early indications from several sources are that the game did indeed continue its roll from last season into 2021.
The year-to-date compilation of monthly research reports from the National Golf Course Owners Association of Canada shows an increase of 13.8 per cent over 2020, with both Quebec (+31.6%) and the Atlantic region (+18.6%) significantly ahead.
Even Ontario, with its golf courses closed by the provincial government, for over a month during the third wave of COVID-19 in April-May showed an increase of 6.8 per cent this year, according to the reports that also indicate that when comparing the national numbers to pre-pandemic rounds played, the growth has been 27 per cent over 2019.
The NGCOA reports also indicate that year-to-date revenues are showing an increase of 25.1 per cent per cent over 2020, the main contributor believed to be food and beverage.
The increase in rounds year over year is not exclusive to Canada. A National Golf Foundation report shows that rounds played in the United States as of the end of July were up 16.1 per cent over 2020. You can read more here.
GNN also asked readers every month to describe the rounds put through in 2021 compared to the same month a year earlier and the polls back up an increase in rounds played. 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 last year 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 in 2020, 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.
What the future holds as far as the pandemic goes remains to be seen, but a foundation has been built the past two seasons for the game going forward.