With the panic that came with the spreading of the virus in 2020, many different small businesses were affected and weren’t getting enough business to stay open. Golf companies found a positive during a time of negatives in 2020.
Golf’s popularity surged because it’s one of the few outdoor sports in which players can more easily distance themselves from other players. The sport has seen an exceptional increase of new golfers following the current pandemic per the National Golf Foundation. After the six-week mandate that shut down all courses across the nation in May 2020, golf courses reported an increase in golf participation, per The Register Mail.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s student, Gilbert Hernandez Jr. said he prefers to play golf instead of exercising in a gym with a mask. “It’s such a fun sport to play, and you don’t have to make contact with other players like you would in a basketball game,” said Hernandez. Hernandez added he has seen more and more of his friends pick up the game within the past year.
PGA Manager for Landa Park Golf course in New Braunfels, Texas, Chad Donegan says the club implemented various precautions to keep the customers safe and minimize the chance of catching the virus. The precautions include wiping down all carts before they go out and returned. They also sanitize around the club house restrooms and other open areas. “We have a chemical solution we use called Virex, we spray on the golf carts and all handles around the club that are high touch points,” said Donegan. Donegan also said it was tough to lose customers during the shut down in the beginning of the pandemic but that the park bounced back and has seen more golfers in the end of 2020 and into 2021.
Could 2020 have been the resurgence year for golf? Many big golf names may think so. After last springs shut down, summer and fall seasons saw a very big number of current and new golfers participating on the golf links. Within 24.8 million golfers in the United States 2020, an increase over 500,000 and merely 2 percent over 2019 is shown to be the largest net increase in 17 years per Golf Digest. Women golfers also made an impact, jumping 450,000 and 8 percent over the past two years.
Although golf is a socially distant sport, golf clubs made some key changes to slow the risk of contracting the virus. Some courses took out the flag stick of each hole or added a metal upside down cup where the ball is easier to take out and doesn’t allow golfers to touch the hole where there may be germs. Other techniques such as a cutting off part of a pool noodle and putting it around the flag stick has been seen at various courses. Screens in between the golf carts are also used to keep golfers safe and decrease the risk of contracting others germ’s. Some clubs will not allow none family members play together to ensure that they have been together through out the whole pandemic and are not having a chance of contracting or spreading the virus.
The rakes for the bunker were also picked up to ensure that no one would use them after hitting in the bunker and passing germs. This rule would allow the golfer to take their ball out of the bunker and take a drop near it instead. These rules stated happened at one point in the pandemic and may not appear at every course.
After more people are recorded going out to play by the club house, will the surge decrease over the next year? Courses around the nation are becoming more lenient with covid rules as vaccines roll out across the country. The PGA tour announced that players will not be tested if they are vaccinated, and players who are not vaccinated will have to pay for their own tests starting this summer 2021. Golf is back and following the masters last month more tournaments in the future are allowing fans to be present alongside their favorite golfers.