Happy New Year!
One of the funnier comments I heard as last year wound down predicted that one second after midnight last Friday morning was the first time in history that we could truly state that hindsight was 2020, as the old saying goes.
Anything that involves the year 2020 being in the rear view mirror is just fine by everybody I know, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
The new year offers hope, even more so in 2021 because of everything that went on in the 11 months before the calendar flipped.
Just before the holidays, the GNN Poll asked readers how they would describe their attitude towards 2021 from a business perspective and 59 per cent said “optimistic, with 33 per cent responding “wait and see” and eight per cent saying “no better than 2020.”
There’s good reason for the optimism.
Golf will open the 2021 season in Canada with the reputation of being a game that can be played safely during a pandemic, a reputation earned last year when it enjoyed a significant increase in participation.
The National Golf Course Owners Association Canada reported in mid-December that rounds played between April and October were up by 18.9 per cent over the same period in 2019. Click here for more on that.
That follows Golf Datatech’s third quarter report that retail sales in the United States had risen 42 per cent and exceeded $1 billion. You can read more here.
In Canada, anecdotes from various manufacturers illustrate a similar situation here on a per capita basis, with challenges keeping up with demand. The consumer, it would seem, not only wants to play the game, but is willing to invest in it.
In November, it was reported by the National Allied Golf Associations (We Are Golf) that the Canadian golf industry generated $18.2 billion in economic benefits across the country in 2019, according to an economic analysis conducted by Group ATN Consulting Inc. Click here for more.
Vaccines are also rolling out across the country, offering hope that, while the end of the pandemic may not be near, there may actually be an end, which is more than we had for most of 2020.
Those are just some of the reasons to start 2021 in a positive mindset, but let’s not throw caution to the wind.
If hindsight is indeed 2020, let’s go back a year to January. Was coronavirus even on your radar? Had you even heard of it? It struck so quickly and we all know what’s happened since. Even in the best of times, there are no guarantees and predicting what’s ahead over the next 12 months is a fool’s game.
The same holds true in January, 2021, as it did a year ago. Change doesn’t just happen with the flip of a calendar from one year to the next, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
We’ve come a long way since we first started hearing about coronavirus and that in itself is a reason for optimism, but going into 2021, there are still some wild cards that could determine not if there’s an end in sight, but rather, how long it will take us to get there.
The early part of the year may seem as if it’s still 2020. Case counts, ICU occupancy and deaths are still disturbingly high and are expected to spike after the holidays. Hospitals in many areas are at capacity to the point in which other surgeries may need to be postponed.
Meanwhile, it will take several months to jab enough vaccine into the arms of Canadians to make a difference and there is no guarantee that it will be effective against the mutations said to be even faster spreading that have been discovered in the United Kingdom and have since made appearances in Canada and other countries.
From a business perspective, many areas of Canada are under some form of lockdown and how that affects food and beverage, pro shops or entire operations remains to be seen in the coming months.
There are plenty of unanswered questions that will be replied to in the months ahead, but one thing that’s certain is that the golf industry has the hindsight of 2020, when we took on a challenge never faced before, to draw on for contingency plans, no matter what happens going forward.
If we take anything positive from 2020, let it be the experience and wisdom of what took place. That puts us far ahead of where we were when the pandemic first struck Canada nearly a year ago.
That and the aforementioned offer plenty of reasons to be optimistic in 2021 and positive thinking will be a useful tool, even when challenges get in our way.