Quebecers turn to golf in high numbers in search of safe activities

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, many didn’t know what to expect. Obviously, many excepted the economy to be hit hard, with some industries more affected than others. However, one industry that received a stroke of luck was golf.

Yes, courses across Quebec and much of the country opened a month late, but the demand didn’t fade away once courses did open. In fact, the demand soared. Coming out of months of lockdown, not only were avid golfers eager to return to the links, but non-golfers were searching for activities in which they could maintain social distancing and ultimately, feel safe.

Even into October, golf courses across the province were booming, perhaps making up for lost time in the early spring. Golfers everywhere have had to book tee times well in advance, with some regular golfers playing even more and newbies enjoying a safe outdoor activity.

“I’ve noticed it’s been a lot busier than past seasons,” golfer Guylaine Rousseau told Radio Canada, while playing at Parcours du Cerf. “Sometimes, it’s difficult to book tee times. You have to do it a week in advance.”

Weather permitting, some courses feel they can stay open into November, due to the increased demand. The number of games that have been played in 2020 is up 20% compared to 2019 numbers, according to the ACGQ. In total, close to 9 million rounds of golf have been played in Quebec this year.

Golf has adapted quickly

While the situation is obviously very detrimental to many industries, the very nature of the game has allowed golf to not only continue operating, but experience a rejuvenation.

“COVID-19 has saved some golf courses,” admits Martin Ducharme, president of the ACGQ. “It shook us, but it allowed us to adjust and do things differently.

Golf has been able to adapt to public health measures far more easily than other sports. With new restrictions for the fall shutting down activities across red zones in Quebec, golf courses have continued operating.

With theatres, restaurants, bars and gyms closed, golf has become an even more viable option.

Younger clientele flocking in

It’s not just the amount of golfers that have stood out in 2020, but also the type of clientele courses are now getting. Courses are seeing more young families book tee times with the 20-35 year old age group also hitting the fairways.

With a new wave of golfers unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the game, another interesting challenge has been for courses to explain proper golf etiquette, without coming off as judgmental. Courses had to find the balance in educating younger people on the rules and etiquette of the game, without pushing them away.

“We were happy to have these young people, because we had been chasing for years and we couldn’t get their attention,” says Martin Ducharme, general manager of the Château Bromont golf course. “They came on their own, because golf’s an activity that’s safe, respects social distancing and is fun.”

Hope for 2021

With many of these public health measures we’ve grown accustomed to expected to continue well into 2021, courses are hoping that younger people will grow a love for the game. Golf equipment sales have been encouraging, as a sign that these new golfers may just pick up the game for the long haul.

Pandemic or not, golf courses now have a new clientele to keep bringing to their clubs. The next few months will be key for courses in making sure they’re ready for what’s expected to be another successful golf season.