Golf Can Expect Even Bigger Boom in 2021
Last year's unexpected golf boom saw a record surge in memberships, a stunning demand for tee times, and has left us with a reported doubling of waiting lists at clubs. It was a unique time, a rare bright spot in the darkness of this pandemic, where players old and new found encouragement to enjoy the rich benefits of the ancient game.
And now we have the confirmed return date for play in England, following a third national lockdown, the key question that those across the entire industry are pondering is whether 2020's unprecedented enthusiasm can be replicated during the 2021 season.
Golf courses have stayed open throughout winter in Scotland, albeit inclement weather has often prevented meaningful play, while it's hoped that venues in Wales and across the island of Ireland will reopen their doors in the near future.
While it remains to be seen whether eventual results will match the optimistic projections, we at Golfshake have confidence to believe that this could become another bumper summer for golf.
This time of year is always seen as the start of the core UK golf season with the arrival of spring in March/April, daylight saving time, and the much anticipated Masters Tournament. This all contributes to inspire hardy winter golfers to play more and brings out those golfers that choose to hibernate during the colder, darker and wetter months of winter.
When golf resumes in England on 29th March, it will be 84 days after the official shutdown. So, what can we expect?
Launching a snap 48-hour survey, 600 keen golfers (70% club members, 30% nomadic) responded to us, sharing their thoughts on the year ahead.
And thrillingly for golf clubs, 22% of those non-members plan to join a club in 2021. Considering the rush for tee times and the initial prioritising of those with memberships, more golfers are seeing becoming part of a club as a pathway to regular golf this season, something illustrated by the following submitted comments.
"I'm considering a very cheap form of membership (as I am nomadic), to give me a better chance of getting tee times at least at one club. I have friends who are members of other clubs, which may present opportunities for playing if members get preference after lockdown."
"It will be difficult for non-club members to find suitable tee times in 2021 as most will be taken by club members."
"With the emphasis on providing members with as many benefits as possible to retain members and encourage new members, I believe that there will be fewer opportunities to enjoy playing at good courses and at reasonable times."
But are their concerns justified, will there be another boom after lockdown that makes it harder for nomadic golfers?
Looking at those surveyed, 87.2% plan to play golf immediately once restrictions end with 11.5% saying it will depend on the weather, but most strikingly of all, 55.3% of golfers plan to play more golf in 2021 than 2020 with only 3.4% saying they plan to play less.
So, if you thought 2020 was busy, then 2021 could come as a shock!
One comment encapsulated the general sentiment. "Because of lockdown, I believe that courses will be packed when we are allowed to return to golf. Golfers who have not been able to play will be eager to get out and play again, and there is likely to be a lot of newcomers too, as people have more money to spend having had nowhere to spend it."
While this will once again present logistical challenges on how to meet the demand, there is a sense of positivity, evidenced last August, when 75.6% of golfers told us they were optimistic about the future of the club game.
Memberships will be a hot ticket, with 89.8% of golfers previously surveyed planning to renew their membership in 2021. Of the 10.2% not planning to renew, only 1.8% planned to stop membership entirely with 8.4% saying they may join a different club.
Services such as those provided by GolfNow will ensure that golfers who choose not to be members of golf clubs can still find tee times and research when, where and how much they want to pay for golf. Additionally, the increased demand will likely see a continued rise in popularity for services such as PlayMoreGolf.
Despite the shutdown, the game is looking forward with fresh initiatives and ways to succeed in the future.
Ultimately, we're all looking forward to a fresh and exciting season for golf, one that offers promise and hope, but one that also raises questions, as the game prepares itself for potentially an even bigger boom in 2021.
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