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Golfers expected to ‘play more but spend less’ post-Covid, says SMS

2.51pm 22nd June 2020 - Coronavirus News - This story was updated on Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

Golfers in the UK are likely to play more golf but spend less on new golf equipment as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Market research carried out with 1,500 UK golfers by Sports Marketing Surveys in the two-week period immediately after golf’s return on May 13 revealed some key short-term trends the impact the pandemic has had on golfers’ current and future plans regarding playing golf and purchasing golf equipment.

The study drew responses from all regions across the UK, with a balanced sample of male and female players, different age groups and golfing abilities; and comparisons between members and non-members of clubs.

Among the key findings relating to retail was that 31% said that they will have less disposable income to spend on golf in the future and that a quarter expect to buy fewer golf products in the short-to-medium term. 

On a more positive note, as far as on-course retailers are concerned, 50% golfers said that they would make a conscious effort to buy equipment from their local club’s PGA Professional, and that getting clubs properly custom fitted was an important element of the buying process than price.

The survey also revealed that over a third of golfers said they will play more golf at their home club this year than they did in 2019, which a similar percentage of existing club members stated that they are less likely to visit other golf courses and pay a green fee.

Planned golf trips in 2021 by country

As far as virus-safety restrictions are concerned, most golfers surveyed felt that the golf is ‘extremely safe’, with 76% of respondents rating the safety of playing golf within social distancing guidelines as either 9 or 10 out of 10. For context, only 4% feel the same about team sports, 3% going to the gym and 5% dining out. Even meeting family/friends in person only saw 29% of the sample rate safety as at least 9 out of 10. Also, nearly 45% of core golfers said will try to encourage more of their family to play golf in the future. 

Before professional tournament golf returned to our TV screens, 69% of the golfers questioned said that the golf content they watched most during the lockdown was related to tuition and coaching.

As far as travel is concerned, domestic venues will benefit for at least the next 12 months, with less than half of golfers surveyed believing it will be safe to travel abroad for a golf break before April 2021, compared to almost 60% who believe it will be safe to travel domestically by the end of 2020. In England, 63% of golfers said they are planning to take a golf break in England in 2021, while 27% said that would travel to Scotland for a golf break next year.

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