Golf Grows, Golf Communities Benefit
As the cornavirus spread across the country in the spring of 2020, the golf industry suffered a dispiriting decline in one of its most important supporting areas–rounds played. In May alone, completed rounds of golf fell more than 16 percent. It was not a good sign for a sport that had been struggling to grow.
But then, as people looked for a way to get outside and socialize, the sport staged a dramatic turnaround.
Beginning in June, the number of golf rounds played spiked, creating new opportunities for the golf industry in general, and golf course communities in particular.
“The worldwide pandemic has badly shaken and limited the social landscape. However, by its very nature, golf–and golf communities–offer a relatively safe environment to socialize, play a sport and be outdoors,” says David Lott, founder/owner of the Golf Course Home Network which features master-planned golf and water view communities.
“Urban dwellers, especially, are leaving their cityscapes to work remotely in the more open and rural settings of golf communities. And people who were planning to purchase a retirement residence have accelerated their timetable in order to buy earlier.”
The spike in interest in golf communities has led to a sharp jump in both traffic and inquiries to GolfCourseHome.com. Traffic is up 60 percent over 2019 and inquiries are up by more than 30 percent, says Lott.
Record Golf Community Sales
Golf community homes with pools provide staycation opportunities.
Rising golf community sales in Florida, the Carolinas and other southeastern states are resulting in record years for real estate transactions.
“This rush to golf communities was completely unexpected,” Lott notes, “as communities were bracing for another horrific real estate downturn like 2008-9. Instead, all the traditional benefits of living in a golf community became a coveted counterweight to activities and lifestyles that the virus was cruelly shutting down.”
Golf community sales increases are just part of the sport’s upward movement, however, as the industry surpassed the $1 billion mark in the third quarter for the first time ever, according to Golf Datatech.
Five Straight Months of Rises
The monthly string of increased rounds, which began in June, gathered further steam in October, the most recently reported month, with national rounds jumping by more than 32 percent over a year ago, according to Golf Datatech’s monthly report.
October marked the fifth straight month that play–in every state in the continental U.S.–has been up year-over-year, adding to the streak of ascending monthly increases.
June was up 14 percent year over year (YOY), followed by increases of approximately 20 percent in July, 21 percent in August and 26 percent in September.
October’s Pleasant Surprise
The relative safety of golf has spurred a rise in rounds.
October’s YOY increase was the biggest yet this year, percentage-wise, and represents more than 11 million additional rounds for the month than in 2019. Since June, the added play has translated to more than 50 million incremental rounds.
The last rounds-played increase of 5 percent or more for a full year was in 2012, when an early-season heatwave contributed to a major uptick in play in parts of the country typically still in their offseason.
This year, the industry’s early monthly declines presaged a difficult season until the startling surges kicked into gear, setting in motion the rise of golf rounds, golf community sales and the overall golf economy.