Golf Course Case Study: How Businesses Can Evolve to Continue Operations While Also Reducing Virus


Amid all of the current chaos due to the COVID-19 health emergency, businesses are scrambling to figure out how to operate from a distanced environment, while some are opting to stop operations entirely. However, there are quite a few industries that are figuring out how to work effectively during this time, some even at a higher capacity than before. Doctors offices, grocery stores, convenience stores, and hardware stores are all clearly seeing increased traffic, among quite a few other essential businesses. Surprisingly enough, golf courses are another addition to this list that are seeing an increase in business. This is due to their ability to adapt and think beyond the problem to create real solutions that attract visitors.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) has made game-changing moves (literally) to foster safer and healthier play. While the nature of golf makes it a relatively low-risk sport for transmission, rule makers took extra measures to protect players while also protecting revenue streams. The USGA’s new guidelines have encouraged courses to remove bunker rakes from the sand pits and take away the use of ball washers. Many courses that remain open have also taken away all flags and holes, many replacing them with upside down cups or foam inserts. At one of our favorite local courses, Patriot’s Point Links, they have placed pool noodles inside each of the cups, leaving the flag markers and making it a contact-free process to sink your put.

Photo Credit: IG @patriotspointlinks

In order to comply with social distancing and maintain at least 6 feet of space between people, many courses are offering players their own individual carts. While it is more cost effective to make people share carts like they normally do, golf courses have adapted to meet current needs. At the end of the day, it is better to have individuals in their own carts than no one in carts at all. With this, golf courses are also cleaning carts thoroughly after each person is done and following the current health guidelines.

Meanwhile, golf courses have seen an upswing in the number of people opting to carry their clubs. To some, riding in a golf cart still seems like a risky way to increase transmission exposure. For others, carrying your clubs is simply a way to promote cardiovascular activity while all of the gyms are closed. This has been a great solution and another way golf courses are marketing themselves as a safer way to have fun during this crisis.

Many businesses are currently finding that discounting their products is the only way that they’ll stay afloat. Beyond discounts, golf courses are also allowing non-members to play on their courses. This is a strategic move that is helping them to increase their brand awareness and stay relevant. They’re thinking beyond the virus, knowing that when it is all over they can retarget these players and hope to get them to become members. This would normally be a busy season for golf courses, when they promote less and focus on big events like tournaments, but since those have all been cancelled, they have shifted their attention to gaining new members and member retention.

Key Takeaways

The USGA took quick and proactive measures to focus on solutions to their current problem. Here’s what we can all take away from their example:

  • Change the rules as you must, but keep your overall mission the same. For golfers, they may need to learn a few new guidelines, but at the end of the day they can still have the comfort of playing the game they know and love.

  • Serve to meet the needs of your customers while still meeting health standards. This may require a few innovative solutions, like pool noodles. Whatever gets the job done in a safe manner!

  • Shutting down your physical location doesn’t need to mean you shut down operations. Instead, give your employees the resources they need to work from home. This might mean updating website and social media phone numbers to reflect cell phone numbers or even investing in an online point of sale system.

  • Focus on brand awareness. Golf courses are highlighting their strengths during this time when so many other businesses are focusing on their shortcomings. They’re showcasing their solutions on social media and stirring up the attention they need to get visitors.

  • Prepare for the future. When this is all over, you want to have a new group of people coming your way. Offer people discounted or free trials and adopt a more inclusive strategy to gain new attraction.

Adaptation is crucial for businesses of all kinds right now. By changing the way we deliver our products or services, we can still meet the needs of consumers and create a profitable solution to thrive during this current health crisis.

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