As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to change the way we live and how sports are played, golf — outdoors where it’s easy to social distance — has remained a strong option for all ages. Youth on Course, a nationwide membership program that offers kids ages 6-18 access to over 1,400 courses across the country for only $5, is a prime example of how the game has continued to thrive.
When comparing its membership from Jan. 1-July 7 in 2019 to the same dates in 2020, the results are astonishing. The organization has seen 154,146 rounds played in the first six months of the year, a 76% increase from last year. Some states have seen absurd rises: The Massachusetts Golf Association rounds increase went up 3,322% (yes, that’s not a typo) and the Minnesota Golf Association went from 6,676 rounds played to 29,993 (up 343%).
While this immediate uptick in rounds played may be shocking, Youth on Course has been steadily growing in membership since 2017, when it had 30,000 members nationwide. Now, by mid-2020, Youth on Course features over 85,000 members across the U.S. and Canada.
Ashleigh McLaughlin, the VP of marketing and communications for Youth on Course, credits the increase in numbers in part due to the pandemic, but also to how valuable affordable golf options are for families who may struggle to afford it otherwise.
“We’re wholeheartedly committed to helping eliminate one of golf’s biggest barriers and to get kids on the golf course regardless of cost or circumstance,” she said. “We often hear from parents that golf simply would not be an option for their children without Youth on Course. So the surge in new membership and the rounds they’re playing tells us pretty plainly how valuable this initiative is for our collective industry.”
McLaughlin is confident these numbers aren’t solely attributed to the current, unique availability of golf, but rather their members are forming lasting devotion to a truly special sport.
“We’re getting the impression that a deeper love for the sport is settling in, in part because it has given them opportunities to enjoy the elements of normal life they’re otherwise missing out on in quarantine,” said McLaughlin. “We’re confident that this is a game they’ll be returning to for the long term.”