If it feels like a lot of your friends are hitting the golf course this weekend, well, there’s a reason for that. Despite ongoing coronavirus concerns, Friday, May 1st marked a return to some sort of partial openings for businesses across the U.S. And while a majority of the country’s courses were already open, a combination of warm weather and eased restrictions only added to that majority.
The National Golf Foundation’s report last week concluded that 58% of courses were open for the week ending April 26. But its latest projection (which you can read here) suggests that by Sunday, May 3, that number of open courses could jump to 80% nationwide.
The initial jump from 49% (April 19) to 58% came with the reopening of courses in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, plus eased restrictions in New York and California. But the latest jump comes thanks to a wave of additional states loosening their guidelines. As of this weekend, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada and Hawaii have all allowed their courses to open up. As a result, the NGF expects to find 80% of courses open when they finish conducting their week’s analysis tomorrow.
Additional openings are yet to come. Washington’s courses are slated to open May 5, while New Hampshire will open its courses May 11. That leave just three states — Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont, plus the District of Columbia — with specific golf bans in place. As of last week, California and New York still faced significant local restrictions, too, with just 23% (New York) and 28% (California) of courses open. Those numbers are expected to rise by the end of the weekend.
As of April 26, 44% of municipal courses were open, a lower number than private courses (61%) and public-daily fee courses (62%).
With anticipated course openings of Washington (May 5) and New Hampshire (May 11), the NGF is bullish in predicting that 90 percent of all courses nationwide will be open by the week ending May 17th. That’s good news for golfers everywhere.
Of course, being “open” certainly doesn’t mean business as usual for most — or any — courses. Clubhouses and pro shops are largely closed or extremely limited. Tee times are spaced out. Cart rentals are banned or reduced. In other words, courses are facing more revenue challenges than ever.
NGF CEO Joseph Beditz urged caution and patience for players and operators alike. “Let’s continue to be careful though … golf has really been given a ‘yellow light,’ not a ‘green light,'” he wrote in an email. “Course owners and operators need to strictly adhere to local requirements, and golfers should be reminded they will be playing before the largest galleries of their lives. I don’t think it would take too many well publicized screwups to cause lights to begin to turn red again.”
So if you’re heading to the course this weekend, be safe. And enjoy!
You can read the entire NGF report here.