Golf in 2020 told in 10 stories

A time capsule for an unprecedented year in the golf world.
A golfer walks the fairway at the reopened Cantigny Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill., on May 1, 2020, after the state's courses were allowed to re-open under strict guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 was an unprecedented and tragic year. But among the glimmers of hope was the game of golf. Maligned for the previous decade in oversupply and struggle, it roared back with incredible strength as people sought socially distant ways to recreate. We typically share our most popular articles in our final newsletter of the year, but for 2020, we thought we would single out 10 stories we covered that explain the incredible year in our sport.

  1. To remain open or closed during COVID-19?

    It was the billion dollar question in March as the world struggled to contain and understand the new coronavirus. Up to 17 states at one point banned the game. While the game's stakeholders eventually proved it could be played safely, there was tremendous uncertainty in the early days.

    4 Min Read
    March 17, 2020
    Government mandates regarding coronavirus have forced some to close, while others stay open under new guidelines for golfer safety.

  2. Golf in the COVID-19 era different

    Golf has gotten a bit fussy in recent years. The pandemic forced the game to be stripped down for a while, in many ways for the better.

    4 Min Read
    September 3, 2020
    The pandemic has changed golf, in many ways for the better.

  3. At munis, more golfers despite wider tee time intervals

    The days of municipalities bunching up tee times with 8 minute-or-less intervals may be numbered thanks to COVID-19. This spring, in an effort to socially distance, the City of Los Angeles implemented 12-minute intervals and the results have been a resounding success. They are actually getting MORE golfers around daily as a result. So the question now is, why ever go back?

    4 Min Read
    June 9, 2020
    Big-city municipal systems are reporting more rounds played despite new 10- and 12-minute spacing in place for social distancing. So why go back?

  4. Year of the push cart

    Chances are you didn't have "a run on the push cart market" among your 2020 predictions at the year's outset. But golfers fell back in love with the most fundamental form of transportation this year, and several companies benefited.

    5 Min Read
    May 14, 2020
    If you're in the market for a push cart, get in line. Due to social distancing mandates and new golf cart rules, trolleys have never been more popular in the U.S.

  5. The cup never looked like this

    Superintendents have always been unsung heroes of the golf world, but they really stood out in 2020. When COVID restrictions bumped up against the normal experience of the game, golf's green thumbs got creative.

    1 Min Read
    March 19, 2020
    Superintendents think outside the cup.

  6. The golf course as a 'third place'

    People struggled mightily to find sanctuary outside their homes in 2020. With a tendency toward safe social distancing and camaraderie, golf courses shone as places of both leisure and therapy.

    4 Min Read
    October 22, 2020
    A year of busted routines offers the opportunity to appreciate the game in new ways.

  7. Analytics and shot tracking gain momentum

    In pro golf, the star of the year was Bryson DeChambeau. He won his first major, overpowering a course many thought couldn't be overpowered. His mix of science, analytics and training has vaulted him into the elite of the game and there is no doubt each week that all eyes are on his big drives and unabashedly aggressive playing style.

    In the amateur realm, we may not all have the dedication to the weightroom or to the multiple protein shakes daily, but many companies have really stepped up their tech lately and now all golfers can track shots and use similar "strokes gained" advanced analytics that Bryson and most elite golfers employ.

    5 Min Read
    August 25, 2020
    Tracking advanced analytics and Strokes Gained data for your own rounds has never been easier. Here's how you can do it.

  8. Biggest grand opening yet?

    Several brand-new golf courses opened in 2020, including Tiger Woods' first publicly-accessible course, which set the stage for a fun televised exhibition in September. It reminded us of some other notable course debuts.

    10 Min Read
    September 16, 2020
    Where the Payne's Valley Cup, hosted by architect Tiger Woods at Big Cedar Lodge, stacks up among golf's most legendary openings.

  9. Private clubs finally roar back

    Private clubs have been in decline since the Great Recession. Oversupply and an aging membership had many wondering if club life was still appealing to a new generation of young families. Thanks to societal changes during the pandemic and billions invested into clubs in recent years, memberships are finally hot again.

    9 Min Read
    December 10, 2020
    Young families in particular sought a safe haven in club memberships in 2020, creating a new dilemma for private golf clubs: Can they find more space on their tee sheets?

  10. Golf 2.0

    Small and structural changes abounded when public policy around the pandemic intersected with golf. It's still early days, but there are some indications that the post-COVID golf world will be a little savvier than the one that came before.

    15 Min Read
    May 22, 2020
    From booking a tee time to the post-round departure, the coronavirus pandemic is causing golf course operators to be more efficient and creative. Some of these innovations may be here to stay.

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Golf in 2020 told in 10 stories