The latest consumer research from the National Golf Foundation indicates that the overall volume of golf trips in the U.S. could be down 35 percent to 40 percent in 2020 due to the coronavirus.

The golf travel market overall in the U.S. exceeds $20 billion annually that ranges from playing fees and accommodations to travel costs, meals and entertainment. It’s estimated that more than eight million golfers played golf while traveling for business or leisure last year.

TSA airport checkpoint data shows the number of air travelers in the U.S. is off about 75 percent versus recent years, and this trend is holding true among traveling golfers most of whom said they’ll be driving to their golf destinations this year – and not necessarily close to home. In recent years, almost 60 percent of golf trips were taken by car. For the rest of this year, the percentage of planned road trips to golf destinations jumped to approximately 75 percent.

Among those who still have a golf trip scheduled for this year, 76 percent said that they’re willing to drive more than four hours each way. The average one-way drive time for planned golf trips for the rest of 2020 is 6.4 hours which is why it’s not surprising that many U.S. golf resorts and destinations continue to aggressively target the drive-in market. Almost one-third of core golfers said they were willing to spend more than eight hours in the car each way for a golf getaway.

NGF found that trips out west by “Easterners” appear to be drastically fewer while southeast golf destinations may suffer the least owing to the large number of golfers living within driving distance.

Core golfers are defined as those who played eight or more rounds of golf over the past 12 months. Additional NGF research on the effects of the coronavirus on golf can be found here.

Illustration courtesy The Left Rough