Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious respiratory disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). First identified in Wuhan, China in 2019, it has lead to a very serious global health crisis that ramped up in the United States beginning in March 2020. COVID-19 quickly spread throughout the United States between March-May 2020, resulting in local and state governments issuing severe business restrictions and stay-at-home orders. Consequently, all factions of the golf industry quickly assembled to: 1) ensure golfing was included as an acceptable form of outdoor recreation; and 2) ensure minimal maintenance at golf properties could continue. Proactive advocacy efforts included outreach to governor’s offices in all 50 states by golf industry leaders and state-based golf coalitions.
The golf industry, working in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control, developed Back2Golf guidelines which were modeled after President Trump’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. These guidelines demonstrate that golf can offer an outdoor recreational experience that provides many health and wellness benefits. This comprehensive plan allows golf to be played responsibly while observing recommended social distancing guidelines.
With Americans seeking opportunities to safely recreate outdoors, golf rounds were at record highs throughout 2020 in many parts of the country resulting in an increased awareness and appreciation for the numerous benefits golf courses bring to communities. However, while golf rounds have increased, many golf facilities and clubs have been significantly impacted by government-mandated restrictions on operations and outright closures. Like many small businesses in the service industry, the service side of golf has suffered tremendous losses with event, tournament and wedding cancellations, and reduced restaurant operations. In a Club Management Association of America (CMAA) survey released on July 1, 2020, 90 percent of clubs and golf facilities responding said they had experienced a financial loss in 2020. The average loss experienced exceeded $600,000 per club in the first six months of the year.