How COVID Has Impacted Golf Spending Habits
The coronavirus pandemic is a major public health crisis, but also an economic one, significantly impacting every industry, leading to a disrupted and uncertain outlook for many sectors, including golf.
Analysing the latest Golfshake Survey that was completed by over 2,500 keen golfers, we look into how COVID-19 has changed travel and spending habits.
Despite restrictions to overseas travel throughout 2020, there has been little impact on travelling within your own country for golf.
How far are you happy to travel within your home country presently to play golf?
Golfers responded largely in line with data from a survey we ran in 2019. We found that 20% of golfers are happy to travel two hours+ to play and 48% of golfers are happy to travel one hour+ for a round, which highlights a positive opportunity for venues looking to target visiting society golfers and those planning an outing or even a golf trip within their own country.
We also asked golfers to reflect on their habits in relation to golf equipment spending and spending habits in relation to golf in general since the game resumed earlier in the year:
- 64% had been in the bar or clubhouse
- 58% of members had played in a club competition
- 32% had played in an event, society or away day
- 43% had played a new golf course for the first time
- 25% had purchased new golf clubs
- 49% had purchased new golf balls
- 26% had purchased a golf product; trolley, bag, DMD, etc
- 56% had purchases golf accessories; tees, gloves, etc
- 25% had purchased new golf shoes
- 43% had purchased new golf apparel; clothing, cap, etc
- 21% had had a golf lesson
Additionally, we asked - How has the Coronavirus affected golf purchases in 2020?
A positive 79% responded with no affect. Only 10% said they had spent less on green fees, similarly only 10% said they had spent less on golf equipment and only 9% said they had spent less on clothing, apparel, footwear.
Analysing the spending habits further, 21% of golfers stated they had spent more than normal, 34.5% had spent less and 44.5% spent about the same as normal.
Looking across the Atlantic, Golf Datatech, LLC, an independent market research firm for retail and consumer trends, revealed that US retail golf equipment sales for August 2020 were up nearly 32% over the equivalent period in 2019.
With golf clubs and in particular the golf professional possibly requiring support during these extraordinary times, it was pleasing to see that 42.7% of respondents said they were more inclined to support their pro shop, with the other 53.6% having no opinion either way. However, only 9.3% stated they had spent more in the pro shop, with 42.4% saying they had spent less and the remaining 48.3% spending about the same as normal.
Finally, we looked at golfer comments to understand the general mood, which were summed up by the following categories:
More Disposable Income
"I have been spending more on all of the above because I have been spending less on things like going to the pub/restaurants, etc. That is beginning to change now that things have been opening up but it was definitely the case earlier in the year."
"Covid-19 has not really affected my spending, I seem to have got all I need from previous times, so would not have spent any more or less these last few months."
"Quite the opposite. I am spending far more on golf than I was before as, while my salary hasn't increased, my other discretionary spending (pubs, restaurants, travel, transport) has gone down significantly so I have been able to afford to play golf more regularly."
Customers Responding With Spend Habits
"I will spend far less in the clubs that are overcharging to try and get money they have lost back, we have gone from maybe two drinks and some food to one hot drink."
"This is due to being furloughed and earning less money."
Green Fee Warnings
"Green fees are through the roof!"
"Green fees much more expensive, 50% increases at some courses."
"Being self-employed and the industry that I work in has suffered, I did not renew my club membership this year, look to pay as I play instead and hopefully finding value for money deals."
"My club has charged me the full rate plus more in a "club fund" add on, plus a yearly increase. I have had no refund for no golf over the lockdown. I am reassessing whether or not to re-join next year."
"Maybe delay new irons next year and possibly change membership if costs jump next April."
"Have been lucky as I can work from home so I am spending more on green fees and got better so worth investing in a new driver."
"Because of the travel restrictions I have probably had more time to browse for new equipment and have ended up spending more."
"So far, I've spent less on golf, however I will look to buy some new woods and would like to play some other golf courses before the end of the year."
"I will spend more on fees and equipment. Still have a job and not spending as much money in lockdown."
Society Days, Golf Breaks & Travel
"Two golf breaks and five golf days cancelled due to coronavirus. Two golf days played without usual pre-match bacon buttie and post-match dinner."
"Probably spent less on green fees but only because of cancellation of society golf events,"
"The only difference is that I haven’t travelled to play with friends who live a distance away from me because we can’t go and have a meal afterwards or stay overnight somewhere."
"We have reduced our society days from bacon roll, 9 holes, lunch, 18 holes and dinner to 18 holes and dinner if available this has reduced cost. We hope to get back to the 27-hole format in the future, Availability of catering remains an issue."
Reflecting on this survey data, golfers have shown themselves to be resilient during this difficult period, largely maintaining spending habits and keen to play where they can, but there are warning flags for the industry and golf clubs with regards to memberships and green fees in the longer term, requiring a potentially challenging balancing act as the game collectively looks towards a brighter future beyond COVID.
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