Asking the Industry: What will be the effects of COVID-19?
Question: COVID-19 has impacted all facets of our life and changed how we live, what do you believe will be the positive and negative effects of COVID-19 to the game we all love?
Richard Lee (Former PGA Tour player and current PGA Professional, @richard_leepga)
“I have many friends who are in a limbo. Either they have Canadian tour status, Latino tour status, or just playing mini tours. Their lives have been impacted a tremendous amount. To top it off there is no Q school this year. So what are they actually playing for in the year 2020?! They will be in the same boat this time of the year come 2021. With less money in their bank accounts and a year older. The dream of all golfers is to play on the PGA tour. But the reality of being a lower status golfer is that it’s very tough. Also dealing with having enough funds and fire to go another year struggling to make ends meet.
I know that everyone or I should say the majority of the “aspiring” golfers have to pay their dues to make it to the big leagues” but their “dream” has been put on hold for another year with no chance to make it to the next level in 2020. I hope these guys hang on and make their dreams come true. But unfortunately some will have to hang it up.”
Todd Sones (Current PGA Professional, 2019 Horton Smith Award Winner, Top 100 Instructor in America, www.toddsones.com):
In my opinion, the game of golf might be one of the best outlets during the pandemic. I know that there are many people who don't understand the game, but for those who don’t play, it’s a better way to get some fresh air, take a healthy walk, have some social interaction (of course while social distancing) which is healthy for the soul. I would stress whenever possible to walk versus ride a cart. As a coach, I believe when people walk they think better, as well as swinging better because they are more likely to stay loose. It's easy to tighten up when riding a cart.
Chris Ardolina (Head Professional at Wycliffe Golf & Country Club, 20+ years of teaching experience, @ardogolf):
“The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the golf industry in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, golf was deemed “essential” in the stay at home order in the state of Florida; therefore, the game quickly became something everyone wanted to do. Golf courses were busy and people were getting outside for physical activity. On the other side of the spectrum, the pandemic has directly affected golf instructors in a negative way. Due to the regulations and guidelines put into place by the stay at home order, people stopped taking in person golf lessons. This meant golf instructors generated little to no revenue during that time. This made it difficult for the professionals to live month to month.”
Jason Way (Geeked on Golf (Founder), Golf Influencer, www.geekedongolf.com):
“Beyond the financial piece, everything that I have observed in my community has been positive. When the course was closed for golf, it was open as a public green space. It was packed with runners, dog walkers, picnickers, etc. Now that we have reopened, we are working hard to create a culture wherein players and non-players can enjoy the space together, strengthening the bonds within our community.
Additionally, because people were so eager to get outside and get some fresh air, we saw a material uptick in the amount of volunteer hours put in during our spring clean-up and prep period. Folks were mowing grass, doing repair projects, raking bunkers, removing dead trees and invasive overgrowth, all while being smart and practicing social distancing. The engagement level with the course dramatically increased because they were caring for it themselves. This spirit of volunteerism has continued, even though we are now open with some of regular maintenance staff back on the job. It's awesome to see.
Regarding players, for the most part, they have adjusted well to the new guidelines for health and safety. I suspect that that has to do with being grateful to be able to return to an activity that they love. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It's a privilege to play this game, and I sense far more gratitude and far less entitlement than I did before. We do not have golf carts on the course, and don't intend to allow them for the foreseeable future. Surprisingly, able-bodied people have not quit the game. They are walking and getting the exercise benefits. The course is much more peaceful without the carts too. We don't have rakes in the bunkers, and as it turns out, players are capable of hitting bunker shots from less than perfect lies. They also seem to be capable of using their feet to smooth out the area they disturbed. We're still not quite there on divots and pitch marks yet, but I have hope!
In my opinion, the simplified version of the game we are now playing is a universal positive. The spirit of the game is alive and well at Canal Shores, and I expect it to remain strong, regardless of what COVID throws at us going forward.”
Zach Gollwitzer (The DIY Golfer (Founder), Golf Influencer, www.thediygolfer.com):
“COVID-19 has impacted millions of lives on many levels, and golf is no exception. That said, I think the golf community can find some positive things amidst this terrible pandemic. We may have missed the Masters this year, but we did get to see some of the game's most respected players raise millions of dollars for COVID relief via charity tournaments. More importantly, we saw our favorite players wearing shorts on live TV, smiling and laughing with each other, and playing for the love of the game. On a local level, I think this has been a huge reminder to many of us that golf is more than buying fancy equipment and shooting low scores. It's about getting out into fresh air and spending time with good friends. Needless to say, we all need golf in our lives; maybe more than we could have ever imagined.”
Nelson Rohrbach (PSG Co-Founder, Former Mackenzie Tour Grinder)
"COVID-19 has produced a profound change to the routines we have in our life, golf will be no different. With COVID cups, separate carts, and no after-round handshakes, the game certainly feels different, but there’s still so many reasons to play the game. Golf is one of the only sports which can play within social- distancing guidelines and I feel as if I dance to the golf course now, feeling so grateful to be able to get outside in this pandemic. The ability to get out, walk in the sun, and do something competitive amid this pandemic is something I wish many more people around the world could experience."