What Made Golfers Play More This Summer
DURING the lockdown most of us were going stir crazy. We were restricted to the amount of time we could spend outdoors and for golfers the worst news of all was that our courses were closed for weeks. We all suffered withdrawal symptoms, not least because the weather was so glorious.
So, when the restrictions were finally eased and we were told that we could play again we all flocked back. And in record numbers. Men and women who had long given up memberships queued up to rejoin. Others who had never been members joined golf clubs for the first time. Golf experienced a boom that, thankfully, continues.
The sport still faces many challenges, not least the time it takes to play. But the new measures which have been introduced seem to have speeded up play and our appetite remains unsated.
Last year’s Golfshake Survey revealed that cost, slow play, and dress codes were among the key areas that stopped us from playing more often, whether a club member or not. But it is clear that a desire to get back out in the fresh air after so many weeks locked up in our homes has changed everything, as we discovered in our latest survey.
Nobody could ever have predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic would turn out to have such a positive impact on golf, but it has. A staggering 36% of you who responded to our August survey said that you played more golf during the summer than you would normally have done. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise - many of you are on furlough, while others are now working from home and have more free time, as reflected in the comments below:
"I am now working from home with no commute. This has meant it is easier to leave home and go straight to the course. It has also been good for mindfulness following lockdown."
"I am self-employed and the work has disappeared so it is a choice between playing golf and going mad."
“Midweek twilight games have definitely been easier to get to now that I am working from home."
“I have finished work, so have plenty of time for golf before I decide whether to finish for good or go back to work.”
"Working from home allows me to slope off early to play in the evenings.”
“I am self-employed with little work on due to Covid. More time for golf. I had the goal to join a club and get a handicap this year anyway - Covid just made it possible earlier than expected once we got back to golf after lockdown."
Many other sports and leisure activities have either been heavily curtailed or have not been able to return, and that has made golf a more attractive proposition for you.
“My other leisure activities have been curtailed due to the restrictions imposed following the COVID pandemic.”
“The outdoor bowls season has been scrapped so have been playing five or six times a week.”
"There’s been hardly any cricket, which is my main sport, so I have been playing golf instead."
Our daily life has also been hugely impacted, with travel restrictions stopping us from going on foreign holidays and discouraging many of us from leaving our home towns, cities and villages. But employers have still been encouraging us to take time off, and you have been using that time to get out on the course:
"No summer holiday this year, so getting opportunity to play twice per week."
"Due to not being able to go away for weekends, I now have the time to play more."
"Normal activities such as weekends away or kids' swimming lessons have been cancelled or are infrequent now, which frees up more time at weekends and evenings."
"I’m retired and I like to travel. As this is not possible, I bought a season ticket and now play three times a week."
“I worked right through Covid and took up golf when pubs had to shut, and I am really enjoying it."
And, of course, some of you discovered that there are health benefits to playing golf on a regular basis. Your correspondent took lockdown as an opportunity to get fit and lose some weight, but many people put on extra pounds and are using golf as a means of getting back into shape:
"During lockdown I put some extra weight on and need to get fit so the best thing for me was to play as much golf as I could and enjoy myself."
"Working from home now but during furlough it was a way of getting out for longer for exercise."
Many of you just enjoyed being in the great outdoors, taking advantage of the fantastic summer weather and looking at the scenery, as well as discovering that golf-club membership can actually provide good value for money:
“I joined a golf club for the first time so am playing twice a week (one evening, one weekend) to get value from my membership."
"I am retired and because of Covid I like to get out in a safe environment, which golf provides."
"Missing nearly three months of golf made me play more than usual when the courses opened up again.”
"I joined a club for the first time in May as this represented better value for me and I want to get a handicap and play in competitions."
Golf can be a force for good and help your mental wellbeing - especially given the fact that we spent so long being locked up in our homes. Lots of you had given up the game, have returned - and are loving it.
“I have come back to play more regularly. I have been away from the game for 10 years."
“Golf is the only thing that has kept me sane during the present Covid-19 pandemic."
"The children are older and having not played regularly for the past 20 years, I decided to make an effort and start playing more again."
For those of you who have been furloughed and are returning to work, they were salad days, but it is now back to reality:
“Yes, I played more when I was furloughed, but I am back to work now so back to playing weekends only."
“I played more when I was furloughed but back to work so not playing as much now."
And, of course, not everybody played more golf, and there were a variety of reasons. While thousands of new golfers hit the fairways, spare a thought for all the health workers who were unable to get anywhere close to a golf course:
“I am a key worker so I had no extra time, so pretty much playing as much as I would have done. The pandemic had no real impact other than not playing when locked down."
“I should have played in a lot of opens but they are not allowed in Scotland."
"There are currently no club matches being played, therefore I am playing less golf this year."
The new Golfshake Survey has provided rich insights and data behind the recent summer of golf. Now, the challenge for the game and the industry going forward will be working to ensure that these short term gains during a unique time are maintained for years to come.
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