October 2021 Industry Report

Twenty-five years ago Tiger Woods turned professional. His impact on awareness and interest in golf was reminiscent of that created by Palmer and Nicklaus. The difference was they played together as their careers overlapped. Palmer fueled the public golf boom of the 1960s, and Jack increased interest in golf throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, until his final ringing of the bell at Augusta in 1986. When Nicklaus was in his heyday, it was the Jack-Arnie rivalry, or it was the “Big Three” with Nicklaus, Palmer and Player. With Tiger, it was just him against the world and he didn’t have to share the limelight.

Golf around the world

In 2020 golf was played in 206 of the 251 countries recognized by the International Organization for Standardization. There’s even a 9-holer on Christmas Island, an Australian outpost in the Indian Ocean that has a local rule regarding “robber” land crabs known to take golf balls. America is home to 42% of world supply of golf courses with 16,000+ facilities. Japan (3,140) and the United Kingdom (3,101) are neck and neck in second and third place.

Supply versus demand update

Golf course supply in the United States has been dropping the past 15 years. The industry is down 1,606 18-hole equivalent golf courses since 2009 – or about 6% of all golf courses in America. The boom in golf during the pandemic has slowed, but not stopped, attrition. It is estimated that 100 additional golf courses will close this year as our industry continues to reach proper equilibrium between supply and demand.