The percentage of off-course golf specialty stores open to foot traffic jumped from 61 percent to 75 percent last week in the National Golf Foundation’s (NGF) latest industry-wide surveys. On-course pro shops are following closely behind with 63 percent now open, up from 52 percent the prior week.

The findings come with 95 percent of U.S. golf courses now open for play.

Even with some occupancy limitations not unlike restaurants, this reopening for business comes just in time for an important equipment buying period – mid-May to mid-June. NGF’s ongoing customer research shows personal financial outlooks are inching optimistically upward, while golf equipment-related searches on Google have begun to resemble “normal” for this time of year.

“Both are evidence of increasing confidence, although we’ve yet to see significant changes in reported spend behavior, as most core golfers indicate they’re still purchasing less or considerably less than pre-pandemic,” said NGF President and CEO Joe Beditz. “Some of this belt-tightening represents an inability to go out and spend, so we’re starting to look more closely at golfers’ buying behaviors — in and out of golf.”

When do golfers expect things to ‘return to normal?’ This continues to shift into the future, with about half of golfers now thinking that time may not come until the beginning of next year, or even later.

NGF’s latest golf facility poll found 95 percent of U.S. courses are open for play, although many still have restrictions on operations. A month ago, less than half were open during the height of the pandemic due to a combination of state and local efforts to reduce the spread of the virus, as well as seasonality.

Preliminary research indicates that most courses are busier than usual for this time of year, data that supports anecdotal reports about strong demand. For the latest data, visit NGF’s special webpage dedicated to continuing research on the effects of the coronavirus on golf here.

Photo courtesy Golf Advisor