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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ReadGolf 2.0: Rounds in the COVID-19 era will be different. Could these changes make the game more appealing?