What if the Covid pandemic creates a new golf craze?
This is what the records I just published indicate National Golf Foundation Which proves that 101 million people played golf last year in the world (including 25 million in the US to which you must add the 14 million who had golf balls or at places like Topgolf).
That’s a 20% increase in the US compared to 2019, true through Covid and a 42% drop in attendance. In one year, the increase in the number of courses observed was 11.3% (ie more than 50 million). The most dynamic states were Texas (+39%), Florida (+37%) and Arizona (+31%). Note that the percentage of young golfers aged 6-17 has increased by 20% (that’s 500,000 kids!). The Professor’s sales volume reached $389 million in July!
In the UK, according to BRS, the number of tournaments played by club members was 705,000, between August 2020 and August 2021, 15.3 million units (i.e. +938000). The slight decrease in the summer is due to the European Football Championship keeping fans at home, bad weather and the reopening of restaurants and bars… However, the numbers are still very high compared to the pre-pandemic period.
In Australia, the post-pandemic period showed that 230,000 adults had played (or resumed) golf and the number of courses played increased by 12%.
A global phenomenon that highlights the need to find an outdoor sport that can be practiced with friends without health risks.
For brands, business is going well. Calaway Announced a 91% revenue increase in the second quarter of 2021, Akushnet Announced an 111% increase in golf club sales with a doubling of turnover and stitched It was sold to a Korean company for $1.9 billion.
What about us in France?
We asked Christopher Munissa General Manager of Ffgolf as well Laurent Poissonnas, President of GEGF (Groupement des Entrepreneurs de Golf Français), the first professional association bringing together owners and operators of golf courses. http: // French golf business group (gegf.eu)
Christophe Monissa: We’re going to break the record for the number of licensees!
I can confirm that the direction is excellent for the development of golf in France.
At the end of 2021, ffgolf will break his own record in terms of the number of licensees. The previous record, which reached the end of 2012, was 422 thousand members. We will pass 430,000 licensees at the end of 2021. That’s about 8% growth compared to 2020 and just over 4% compared to 2019, which was a really good year.
The licensed practice scale is clearly not an alpha and an omega, but it still allows an estimate of the trend.
Huge influx of new players
In addition to the overall numbers, the other good news is the massive influx of new golfers. In 2021, we will register more than 50,000 new licensees, more than 10% of the total number. This dynamic has not been observed since the end of the 80s, but at that time almost 30 cycles were created per year, which is no longer the case today. In fact, the number of cycles is stagnant today.
This strong growth is due to several elements of the trend. First of all, before the 2020/2021 crisis, the dynamism was already on the rise. We’ve recorded progress, albeit more modestly, since 2016. The “100 Small Facility” scheme, which has created more than 80,000 new golfers between 2008 and 2018, has played a key role in welcoming these new fans of the small white ball. The hosting of the Ryder Cup highlighted our sport and helped spur this new attraction for a larger segment of the French population to practice golf. Finally, clubs have implemented extensive campaigns of “open door” operations, often free of charge, in all areas, both urban and rural.
Today, thanks to the studies we conduct regularly (Union Sports & Cycles, Sports Marketing Surveys, EY, etc.) we can see the measurement of the number of players and the assessment of types of practices as well as players’ motivations, of which the most important development lever is the presentation of the practice itself. The questions anyone interested in golf asks themselves are very simple: Where can I play? At any price ? What would the “benefit” of this practice be to me in terms of pleasure or well-being? Will I be supervised/accompanied by a teacher? Will they take care of me so that my experience is enjoyable (the idea of the service)?
The fact that there are clubs in all of these dimensions makes us clearly envision sustainable growth. We believe this revival of our discipline reflects the desire for nature and the friendly practice of many French people.
This desire, revealed in 2021, is very promising for the future of French golf.
Laurent Boissonnas: The golf family has remained united during the crisis
Today there are signs of hope!
The golf industry has not survived the Covid-19 crisis. As a result of 3 months of complete administrative closure, two and a half months of additional restaurant closures and post-closure traffic restrictions, golf companies – what no matter how they manage their commercial and interconnectedness – lost an average of 19% of total sales in 2020 and 11% in pure golf activities (subscriptions, green fees, training, rent, etc.).
Despite this, thanks to the efforts of golf course staff, investment delays and various government aid schemes (8% of 2019 sales volumes affected in 2020 on average), the clubs were able to weather this unique crisis without mortgaging the future.
Business is booming
The golf family has remained united during the crisis to better defend its interests and advance its values with one voice to the public authorities through other outdoor recreational activities as and when required. These measures enabled the courses to reduce closing periods (which would have been in line with restaurants, or even sports practiced indoors) and thus reopen at the end of November 2020, not an initial mortgage for 2021.
Although bars and restaurants are closed until May 19, activity has rebounded well in 2021. Thus, in the first half of the year, activity rose sharply compared to 2020, but above all it also rose by 4% compared to 2019 – something Very Wonderful. During the second half of the year, the increase in average activity was on a trend of over 5% on average, which is very positive even if it masks large disparities. Clubs whose activity is linked to international tourism remain highly penalized, while clubs that mainly attract local leisure customers can go further, especially on the coast – consequences of the new behavior associated with the Covid crisis (remote work allows new organization of days, secondary) housing which becomes almost major, etc.).
The confinement period and revitalized societal dynamics are already having a beneficial effect in 2021 for golf, outdoor activities and sports in general. The French, more than ever, after being “locked up”, wanted to be outside, in the heart of nature, to enjoy with friends or family…so many values that golf perfectly embodies, beyond all the usual prejudices. It is from another era far from reality.
The truth is that golf is fun and good for your health and your soul.
Challenges are not absent, above all environmental transformation
The 2021 license numbers confirm that there are more golfers (the number of FF Golf licensees will break a record in 2021 with over 430,000 licensees) and above all the curiosity about golf is stronger. In fact, the number of new licenses created in one year can approach historical records at more than 45,000. That’s good news for golf after 10 years of stagnation. However, this trend must be confirmed in 2022 because the challenges are not lacking for clubs, especially with regard to environmental transformation.
Not many people thought they would become golfers. Others who left their sticks in the garage found them happy. Others who played 5 times a year still play 5 times a month!
We also met young people who are fully immersed in this sport that they thought was for retirees. The concept of the relationship to time, health, and nature has changed with the pandemic. This is good for golf development.
There are many solutions in clubs to deal with this influx of enthusiasts: advanced youth orange shirts, flexible working hours, rental chain, installment contributions, etc.
On the other side
But on the other side of the coin, there are also other problems that can arise: the main ones are of three types.
First, this phenomenon should not be a fad that is abandoned as quickly as possible. to golf courses, i.e. the retention of newcomers who are often turned away from their preferred place by commitment and who have played golf by default.
Then, that flow caused traffic jams on some already full golf courses. In certain geographic sectors like the Basque Country, it becomes very difficult to get departures, even a week earlier, especially if you want to play in a group.
Finally, employees do not always have sufficient resources to meet this demand, as operators are reluctant to invest while the future remains uncertain.
Be aware that even the most optimistic imagine a new wave of track-building to welcome followers of this number one individual sport in the world!
How many golf courses in the world?
According to the NGF, there are approximately 38,000 cycles in the world, present in 82% of the countries included: that is, 206 countries out of 251.
So the sport is highly represented on the whole planet but its main course – 80% – is concentrated in about ten developed countries.
With a statistic that also explains the success of golf in the USA: Contrary to what one might think, 75% of the courses there are public.
Cover Photo The Champions Course – Evian Resort Golf club