State of the Industry – The Return to Golf

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on all aspects of life. The golf industry has endured a trying 2+ months where many difficult decisions were evaluated from course reopenings, to postponement of tournaments, to golfers’ safety and how to enjoy the game from home. As we look to June, the beloved game of golf officially returns to broadcast. With a shared passion for the game, we asked industry leaders for their perspective on what this milestone means for the future of the golf industry.

“I believe that the golf industry’s governing bodies have done an exceptional job in reacting to what has been an otherwise very dark time for our country during this COVID-19 pandemic. Working together to first understand and then develop the best safety protocols for our golf community was step one. Distributing this information to those operating the golf facilities in our country was the next step and then following up to ensure the implementation of those protocols. Equally impressive was the effort to educate national, state and local government officials on the merits of keeping golf courses open for business. The game naturally conforms with social distancing requirements and the simple pleasure of being outside with people to whom you’re the closest helped people cope with the stress associated with the stay-at-home public policies and illustrates why the game of golf is so important to so many people and why it will continue to grow. I believe that through this pandemic the game of golf has demonstrated its unique position in American sports, truly a game where all people regardless of age, gender or ethnicity can participate in and enjoy.”

– Ed Byman, CEO, GVC

“Like all golf fans, I’m counting down the days until the PGA and LPGA Tours are back. I am in awe of the efforts that both tours are making to create a path for professionals to compete in a safe way. It was fantastic to watch the charity match and last weekend see the greatest quarterback of all time – Tom Brady, get into the mix. Sorry, couldn’t resist.”

“Beyond the professional game, we’re also optimistic about the game’s future because we’re starting to see people return to the game after years of not playing, new people entering the game, and golfers using the game as an escape – being outdoors, playing with family members, walking and getting exercise.  Its appeal as a sport and a game is stronger than ever. We will get past this time and we won’t take it and spectator sports for granted ever again.”

– Craig Annis, Chief Brand Officer, USGA

“I believe there is a silver lining for the golf industry in particular. As a sport, golf is an ideal activity for people to take up during this time. I anticipate the industry will not only see a tremendous resurgence of avid golfers rushing to get out and play but also an increase in new people taking up the game.”

– Jason Kycek, SVP Sales and Marketing, Casa de Campo Resort & Villas

“I’ve worked in the golf industry for 30 years and COVID-19 is, of course, unlike anything we have ever seen. The pandemic has caused a great deal of grief in our personal lives and presented economic challenges for our businesses. While negative impacts will be felt for the foreseeable future, the spirit of collaboration and unification across the industry has been inspiring. I am proud of how golf’s leading organizations banded together to create the Back2Golf guidelines as a clear framework for responsible golf operations during the pandemic. Those who work and participate in the game know first-hand the incredible benefits it provides. I think the road ahead is still long in terms of recovery, however the teamwork we’ve seen makes me optimistic that golf has an opportunity to both serve our current core golf community, as well as open the door for new people to experience it.” 

– Greg McLaughlin, CEO of World Golf Foundation and President of The First Tee

“I think golf stands a great chance to emerge from the crisis more popular than ever, as people of all ages are increasingly drawn to its outdoor setting, opportunity for exercise and many other positive attributes.”

– World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam

“It seems like now, interest in golf is increasing as more things open up.  People are finding the best place to be is outside, so they are playing more golf than normal.  Of course, no one wants to go through something like a pandemic, but I think we need to take the positives from the situation and going forward hopefully we’ll see growth among new golfers and rounds played.”

– Jesper Thuen, General Manager, ECCO Golf USA