In April of 2020 Bradley Klein wrote an article (SI, Morning Read, April 29, 2020) predicting the long-term effects of the Covid outbreak on the golf industry. This post examines the accuracy of Klein's predications. It turns out that he was wrong on just about everything. At the time, I wrote that his predictions were overly pessimistic, but I would evaluate the evidence after two years to see who was right. Here is some of what he wrote so you can be the judge:
Based upon extensive conversations with industry professionals during the past few weeks, I found that these long-term trends are likely to emerge.
* Establishment of stringent measures for preserving social distancing, to be communicated clearly throughout the course.
* Provision of casual health-care stations, including hand washing and hand sanitizing.
For Private Clubs
* Private clubs positioned to enhance their non-golf services, including gym, health club, swimming, tennis, spa and child care, will be able to offer the kind of comprehensive experience of safety, nesting and family comfort that is likely to prove highly attractive in a post-pandemic culture.
* Private clubs that position themselves carefully can provide a wide range of comprehensive services that, individually, are struggling to survive in the marketplace. Movie and stage theaters will continue to struggle with reopening, as will gyms, hair and nail salons, and many restaurants. A great number of those businesses will disappear, thus creating a market niche for carefully planned club offerings.
* Likewise for private real estate golf communities, residents will come to value the onsite provision of functions formerly dispersed, from post office and shipping to medical and pharmacy, grocery shopping, hair and nail salons, massage and personal health training. Facilities that can provide these services will have a tremendous market advantage in the years to come.
In anticipation of that gradual return, the industry has aligned with an effort that entails a series of carefully specified steps designed to provide an environment at the golf facility that is safe for players, employees and the non-golfing public at large. Golf is uniquely positioned to make a comeback. It’s also a great opportunity to sell the game as fun, good for the environment and conducive to public health.
At the time, I thought Mr. Kelin was wrong about the long-term effects of Covid and wrote (5/1/2020):
Mr. Klein responded (5/1/20200:
I still disagreed and wrote (5/4/2020)
So, in the end who was right.? Here is a test. Go to any club and try to find any evidence a pandemic occurred. Maintenance practices, food service, and playing procedures are back to what they were in 2019 contrary to Mr. Klein's predictions. It does look like the pandemic increased the demand for golf resulting in higher daily fees and membership costs. But that is the one thing Mr. Klein failed to predict.