August 2021

The COVID Hangover, Changing Workplace Patterns and Their Positive Impact on Future Rounds Volume

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- "Underwhelming" return to other favorite activities bodes well for golf industry

- Less than half of population surveyed have experienced a "COVID Liberation Moment" 

- Nearly 1 in 5 golfers won't return to the office before the end of '21

- 43% of golfers surveyed prefer working from home exclusively

Much of the industry banter surrounding rounds growth has been attributed to the perfect storm created by the COVID 19 pandemic. And with a renewed caution in the air, driven by the Delta variant, it is not surprising to us to see the industry sustain robust participation data throughout the Summer 2021 season. Our ongoing Back to Normal Barometer research continues to pulse golfer and overall U.S. consumer attitudes and behaviors. With the latest wave of research, we continue to observe how several COVID related phenomena have directly and positively impacted the rounds growth and bullish attitudes about the present state of golf participation.

It has been widely documented how golf has been able to successfully position itself as one of the few viable options for outdoor recreation and socialization, particularly during the more restrictive, peak waves of the pandemic. As golf facility operators and other stakeholders continue to ponder the sustainability of the surge in participation that the sport has enjoyed since last Summer, these latest developments, while perhaps alarming for the nation as a whole, bode well for the golf industry.

Amplifying the bullishness are two new phenomena that we are now observing that have potentially longer term implications. First, is the struggle that other leisure activities have had in ramping back service levels and delivering on desired customer experiences. As the first chart illustrates, less than half of the population has experienced what we’ve dubbed as a “COVID Liberation Moment”…defined as a particular moment in time where for someone, personally, they felt that they had basically gotten their pre-pandemic life back in some meaningful way, either temporarily or permanently. If golf has been a viable substitute and/or taken on greater resonance over the past seventeen months, it does not appear that it has been knocked down from such a perch
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