Golf trips avoid the hard and aim for a bright future

Golfers are hitting the links around the world in record numbers

While much of the tourism sector has spent the last three years recovering from the damage inflicted by the pandemic, the venerable sport of golf has suffered a different fate.

After being initially staggered in 2020 by the impact of the COVID-19 virus, golf has seen an impressive increase in the second half of 2020. This growth has continued throughout 2021, with the National Golf Foundation reporting that more rounds of golf were played on courses across the country. than at any time in history. And that number is expected to increase by 2023.

In 2021, according to the NGF, 25.1 million Americans played at a golf course, a net increase of about 300,000 golfers from 2020. That 2021 number increases to 37.5 million Americans when off-course training grounds, simulators or entertainment venues like Topgolf are added to the mix.

These statistics are even more encouraging when you consider the number of women and newcomers using the links. In 2021, of the 25.1 million who played golf on a course, more than 6 million were women, a number that has increased significantly over the past five years. Likewise, in 2021, a record 3.2 million played golf for the first time. This follows more than 3 million new golfers making their debut in 2020. Both figures exceeded the previous record of 2.4 million new golfers in 2000.

Good news for tour operators

The growing popularity of golf is promising news for travel planners looking to rebuild after a cataclysmic 2020 and 2021. Golf travel, which already has a turnover of $20 billion in the United States, looks set to improve on that figure in the coming years.

According to a recent NGF survey of ‘core golfers’, almost 80% said they plan to take a dedicated golf trip this year. This number is considerable up from a year ago, when about 66% of attendees (nearly 13 million Americans who play at least eight rounds of golf a year) said they were planning a golf trip. In this sense, an NGF survey of 75 American resorts shows that advance bookings for golf trips have increased by 12% compared to the same period compared to last year and by almost 20% compared to pre-pandemic days.

Pebble Beach Golf Course is one of the most popular courses in the world. Credit: Steven L. Shepard

Not even exorbitant fuel prices, which have reached a national average of $4,009 for a gallon of gas this year, have deterred golfers. Nearly 60% of golf trips involve golfers hitting the road by car, but destinations like Big Cedar Lodge in the Missouri Ozarks are reporting advance bookings for 2022 are similar to 2021.

Nothing, it seems, can stop golfers from following the course they want. And considering there are over 38,000 courses worldwide in 209 different countries (85% of the world), that’s a good number of potential travelers.

National Golf Destinations

Of these 38,000 courses, more than 16,000 are in the United States, with the best states for golf being California, Florida and Oregon. These states are home to the most top-100 courses in the nation, with California having 10 top-ranked courses.

And while rankings vary depending on where you look, it’s generally accepted that Pebble Beach in California, Pacific Dunes in Oregon and TPC Sawgrass in Florida are some of the best courses in the world. Best of all, these legendary courses are open to the public.

Overseas golf trips are on the rise

A report titled “Golf Tourism Global Market Report 2022 – Market Size, Trends, And Global Forecast 2022-2026” published by The Business Research Company, indicates that the golf tourism market is expected to grow from $4.44 billion in 2021 to $4.8 billion in 2022. This same market is also expected to reach $5.8 billion in 2026.

The fact that over 670 golf courses are either under construction or in the planning stages further bolsters the sport. Asia, Europe and North America account for nearly 80% of all golf courses under construction or in planning. The expansion of golf courses in these regions will boost the golf tourism market in these regions, leading to healthy growth in the global golf tourism market.

One such example of a healthy golf market is the UK, where some of the the best golf venues are selling out this year and in 2023. Gordon Dalgleish, who runs the US tour operator PerryGolf, told CNBC he had never seen such demand from Americans wanting to play at high-end courses in Britain, such as the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. In fact, PerryGolf nearly sold 2,023 places to play at the Old Course, which is considered the oldest and most iconic golf course in the world.

In 2021, of the 25.1 million who played golf on a course, more than 6 million were women, a number that has increased significantly over the past five years.  Credit: Photo by Stefan Waldvogel via Pixabay.

In 2021, of the 25.1 million who played golf on a course, more than 6 million were women, a number that has increased significantly over the past five years. Credit: Photo by Stefan Waldvogel via Pixabay.

Golf brings money to tourism

Although golf may be the main reason travelers visit Scotland and other golf-affiliated cities and countries, it is only one part of these excursions. This greatly benefits the cities and countries that are home to these golf courses.

Golf tourism represents the largest sports-related travel market and is considered one of the best ways to boost tourism. This is largely because golf tourists often have higher average spending than other tourists, with golfers spending on average 2.5 times more than leisure tourists. Only 25% of this sum would be spent on golf.

The National Golf Foundation also found that while the average length of a trip for a domestic visitor is 3.6 days, a golfer stays an average of 4.6 days. This number is even more pronounced with overseas golf travelers who stay at least seven nights according to a survey conducted by Golf Travel Consulting.

In other words, golf trips are big business. And it’s growing day by day.

By Jason Paha

#Golf #trips #avoid #hard #aim #bright #future

Add Comment