May 13, 2020

NGF COVID-19 Update – Golf Course Openings Top 90 Percent as Retail Continues Comeback

Jupiter, FL – The National Golf Foundation’s seventh week of nationwide surveys found that 91% of U.S. golf courses were open last week amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with all 50 states now allowing golf to be played.

Since the last week of April, a dozen states have lifted statewide bans on golf while others – most notably California and Florida – have eased significant local restrictions. There are still some local government orders keeping golf closed in metro areas like New York City, Washington D.C. and Chicago, but the latest projection from NGF researchers indicate 95% of courses will be open for at least some level of play by next week. In early April, only 44% of courses were open and as many as 19 states had noteworthy limitations on golf operations last month.

The most notable change last week was among municipal golf facilities, which jumped to 92% open from 66% a week earlier.

“While it’s encouraging to see the golf business making a comeback, this isn’t business as usual, not from the standpoint of golf course operations, or from golfers’ compliance and responsibility. Golf course operators have specific safety protocols to follow, as do golfers,” said NGF President and CEO Joe Beditz. “Golf has been given the go-ahead because it’s considered a relatively safe activity when social distancing is maintained and other precautions are followed. But make no mistake, what has been given can be taken away. It’s now up to both golf course operators and golfers to keep golf open. Bad behavior will get noticed, and possibly recorded on a smartphone.”

Golf retail, both on- and off-course, is also coming back. The latest facility polling indicates that 52% of pro shops are open for business nationally, up from 36% last week even as states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey and Illinois have government mandates requiring pro shops to remain closed. Among golf facilities open for play, approximately 57% now have pro shops that are open – the equivalent of about 7 million total square feet.

Additionally, an estimated 59% of off-course golf retail locations are open (in terms of square footage), up from 39% a week ago. In early April, 96% of the 6.5 million square feet of off-course golf specialty space had been closed to in-store traffic. Relatedly, golf consumer anxiety – emotional and financial – is easing. For the latest research and best insights, visit:

The NGF’s special webpage is dedicated to continuing research on the effects of the coronavirus on golf and includes the latest data and information on course operational status, government orders, consumer sentiment, golf retail, and much more. NGF’s ongoing national tracking of golf facilities features the most nationally-representative sample in the industry.

About the National Golf Foundation

The National Golf Foundation is a community of individuals and golf businesses committed to being the most well-informed advocates for the growth of the industry. With the world’s largest research team dedicated to golf, NGF provides members with the most accurate and objective insights on the game, while helping golf companies and organizations better understand their market and grow their businesses. The NGF is the only association for everyone in golf, and we advocate for growth by educating and connecting our members.

Erik Matuszewski
National Golf Foundation
Editorial Director
(609) 577-0652