Matthew Johnson, General Manager UK Region Acushnet Europe, shares his reasons on why the golf industry can look forward with optimism for the year as the current lockdown is set to finally finish. Here is what he had to say:
1. History Lessons. During lockdown 1 none of us knew how the situation would play out, we all had to treat the situation with ultimate caution and protect cash flow. This time around, we have lessons to learn from, there is more certainty about how the situation will evolve post lockdown and we can all plan more proactively for when golf is allowed to be played and retail can re-open. We know golf will emerge from lockdown quicker than almost any other sport.
2. Even though we are in lockdown right now, the game of golf has more momentum than I have seen during my 18 years in the industry, rounds played data, retail data in fact just about any data you wish to look at for H2 2020 demonstrate golf did more than just bounce back.
3. We can’t play golf right now, apart for some lucky 2 balls up in Scotland, however unlike lockdown 1 golf is being played on global tours and is highly visible on TV. This is fuelling golfers desire to get back on the course and the best golfers in the world are playing, validating and creating demand for the products we will bring to market in 2021.
4. Basic psychology, there’s nothing quite like telling somebody they can’t do something to make them want to do it even more. A quick scroll through social media tells us golfers cannot wait to play regardless of the UK weather.
5. If golf had to be closed for 2 months in 2021, you’d choose them to be Jan & Feb, we can recover (& more) and we’ve seen this in the past when weather has caused slow starts to the year. Remember we lost 2 of the biggest golf months of the year in 2020 and still saw successes.
6. Staycation culture. Judging by my own (failed) attempts to find a UK holiday, people will stay in the UK during the summer months, “scientists” also claim we shouldn’t holiday abroad until at least Q4. This should mean a repeat of the high rounds played in August ’20, a month that usually sees a decline.
7. Using the 2016 to 2020 SMS Rounds of Play data and doing some basic calculations, there is a good possibility for a year that at least meets levels of play during this 5 year period and even sets a new high-water mark for that period.
8. We can’t accept visitors to the UK right now but speaking to friends and colleagues around the world, people are primed and ready to make trips to the resort courses of UK & Ireland and spend some money when it is safe & permissible to do so.
Just my views, there will be many out there and I understand others may wish to be more cautious. Personally, I believe it is important to remain positive and optimistic, we can and will come through this difficult start to 2021. GR