Golf booming in USA

Growing Golf
NGF Covid-19 Participation Data

The biggest rise in interest in golf since Tiger Woods became a global sensation in 1997.

That’s how best to sum up the enormous increase in golf participation in the USA last year, according to data released by the National Golf Foundation and reported by CNN.

Compared to 2019, there were almost 57 million extra rounds in 2020, raising the total to 441 million rounds played over more than 16,000 golf courses.

Public courses saw 12% more rounds and private clubs were up 19% as golf benefitted from being a ‘safe’ sport played outside and socially distanced.

And these figures are despite the fact that there were around 20 million fewer rounds in March and April because of pandemic-related closures.

Once golf courses were allowed to reopen safely in early summer, people flocked to them, and as the year went on, numbers continued to climb, peaking in November when there were 16.5 million more rounds played than in the same month the previous year.

Golf’s surge in popularity is also reflected in equipment sales, which reached an all-time high of $388.6 million in July 2020, according to Golf Datatech, a golf market research company.

Adidas Golf President Jeff Lienhart told the NGF: “It's amazing to see the growth the sport has experienced - even in the face of a global pandemic. The fact that people can play safely, get outdoors, social distance etc is certainly positive. Although retail has experienced an uphill battle this year, we’ve seen tremendous demand in our online channels.”

TV viewing figures have also boomed. In August, ESPN’s broadcast of the US PGA Championship received the best ratings in five years, with 1.246 million viewers for the first round, rising by 42% for round two.

Everything points to a significant resurgence for golf Stateside, but as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt, will the sport maintain be able to maintain its popularity boom?