March 2021 Industry Report

America’s economy currently has 146.1 million employed, generating $8.4 trillion in wages. How does the golf industry contribute? There are approximately 307,000 employed in the golf industry (including everyone from seasonal caddies to general managers) who generate $60 billion in wages.

Renaissance In Rounds Played

By now, you are well aware of golf’s renaissance during the pandemic. This has been very, very good for the sport. But, I would like to add a bit of reality and a thought for you to ponder. Even with the bump in participation to around 25 million golfers – we are at the same number of players as 25 years ago – despite population growth of 25%. The rate of participation in the U.S. has fallen from 11% to around 8%.  A topic to discuss during your next management meeting: As the virus ebbs, will we again revert to a decline in participation? If so, how do you defend your market share?

Golf in COVID World

A group of health experts were asked to rate the riskiness of activities to contract the virus during the pandemic on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most risky and 1 being the least. The results:

9: Going to a bar

8: Attending church

7: Attending school

6: Getting a haircut

5: Flying on a plane

4. Eating outside at a restaurant


2. Riding a bike

1. Playing singles tennis

Rated as risky as playing golf included: entering a grocery store, staying in a hotel, and visiting a museum.

A Cautionary Tale

Palm Beach County finds itself defending a class action lawsuit challenging a golf facility volunteer employment category. The plaintiffs received free golf privileges in return for mundane tasks, including unloading golf bags, patrolling pace of play, and trash disposal. No cash exchanged hands. The lawsuit is a two-edged sword. If the case is heard, two questions will be answered:

(1) Are golf privileges fair value for chores completed?

(2)  Will “volunteers” face the wrath of the IRS for the value of golf that should have been reported on tax returns?