Course operators earn high marks on executing Back2Golf initiative

Survey shows that pandemic protocols at golf facilities have helped ease golfer fears and led to faster re-engagement with the game

Much of the discourse around the golf industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has centered on the participation surge that the industry has enjoyed. Sports and Leisure Research Group’s continuous tracking in this space, along with industry-participation metrics, have echoed these upward trends in growing share of customer with actual rounds-played data.

Commensurate with the reported increase in play has been acknowledgement of several foundational drivers that facilitated this boon for the industry. Golf is an outdoor activity that affords for socially distant human interaction and fills the void of other forms of entertainment and recreation that have been inaccessible or deemed risky.

Sports and Leisure Research Group — Graph 10.29.2020

(Graphic: Sports and Leisure Research Group)

But less attention has been paid to another key driver that is significant in fueling the upswing that golf has enjoyed. In Sports and Leisure Research Group’s Back to Normal Barometer work with other hospitality and leisure verticals, there has been a direct and explicit need expressed by a majority of consumers to see visible and demonstrable evidence that sanitization and safety protocols are consistently in place and adherent to science-driven best practices. The research concludes that such practices are essential for providing consumers with feelings of personal control that have been vital in re-engaging with favorite activities.

Many verticals — theaters, bars and restaurants as prime examples — have fallen short in aligning and diffusing these best practices to wary potential customers. Golf did not have that problem. We Are Golf, a collaborative industry group, efficiently launched and promoted the Back2Golf initiative, which provided golf-facility operators with an easy-to-implement set of guidelines to reopen their doors safely. The data in the accompanying graphic show how a continued increase in play has moved in lockstep with customer perceptions that their home facility has delivered on these necessary assurances.