The latest consumer research from the National Golf Foundation indicates that overall volume of golf trips could be down 35% to 40% in 2020 due to the coronavirus.
The golf travel market overall in the U.S. exceeds $20 billion annually, a robust market that ranges from playing fees and accommodations to travel costs, meals and entertainment expenses. It’s estimated that more than eight million golfers played golf while traveling for business or leisure last year.
TSA airport checkpoint data shows the number of air travelers in the U.S. is off about 75% versus recent years and this trend is holding true among traveling golfers, most of whom say they’ll be driving to their golf destinations this year – and not necessarily close to home. In recent years, almost 60% of golf trips were taken by car. For the rest of this year, the percentage of planned road trips to golf destinations jumps to approximately 75%.
Among those who still have a golf trip scheduled for this year, 76% say they’re willing to drive more than four hours each way. The average one-way drive time for planned golf trips for the rest of 2020 is 6.4 hours, which is why it’s not surprising that many U.S. golf resorts and destinations continue to aggressively target the drive-in market. Almost 1/3 of core golfers with chronic wanderlust said they are willing to spend more than eight hours in the car, each way, for a golf getaway.
The above map shows how intent to travel to various locations (by core golfers living east of the Mississippi) has changed since the beginning of the year. Trips out west by “Easterners” appear to be drastically fewer, while southeast golf destinations may suffer the least, owing to the very large number of golfers living within driving distance. Core golfers are defined as those who played 8-or-more rounds over the past 12 months.
For the latest data and insights, visit NGF’s special webpage dedicated to continuing research on the effects of the coronavirus on golf: https://thengfq.com/covid-19