Ryan Johnson started playing golf less than a year ago. Indeed, he prefers to hit the range in his spare time.
On his 19th birthday last month, his parents bought him new golf clubs. His social media feeds are also filled with golf content.
“I got to know and noticed a lot of people coming in to play golf,” said Johnson, of Jackson Township. “I know a group of my friends have been asking for golf and things like that more often than we did in the past.”
Johnson and his friends are among the many people who have started playing the sport in recent years, a movement visible on golf courses across Stark County as parking lots and tee times are filling up and business is booming.
Carrie Lowry, PGA Director of Golf and General Manager at Legends of Massillon Golf Coursehas estimated business on its course has increased 30% since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US in the spring of 2020. Last year, she said, about 48,000 rounds of golf were played at Legends, roughly 300 golfers per day.
Across the United States in 2021, 37.5 million people over the age of six participated in golf activities on and off the course, according to the data From the National Golf Foundation. More than 3.2 million people played golf for the first time last year, breaking the previous record set in 2000 of 800,000 people.
Lowry said people flocked to the golf courses because playing the sport was a way to relieve stress, and it also allowed people to be outdoors, away from the health restrictions imposed on indoor areas. This led to a new era for the sport in which people traditionally unrelated to it – such as teenagers and women – played a major role in the development of the game.
More young men and women are enjoying golf
“There is a tremendous amount of growth in the younger age groups,” said Andy Lyons, owner of Lions den golf course Near Canal Fulton. “Several years ago, it was just the opposite. All the growth was there and expected to be in the older[age group]and now we’re seeing a radical shift from that.”
Lyons said venues like Topgolf and 1899 Indoor Golf — both of which use traditional golf elements in competitive-style games — have motivated people to try their hand at real golf courses.
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Sue Snood, Business Director at Tannenhof golf club At the alliance, he said more people in their 20s and 30s are coming to the golf course than ever before. She added that Tannenhof offers a number of junior programs and junior golf clinics, which has increased the number of young players.
in Sable Creek golf course Near Hartville, women played much more, said golf manager Ray Headley. He attributed the increase to allowing people to work from home, which gives them more time to try new things, especially during the summer months.
Bring bacon home
As more people play golf, so does the amount of money Stark golf courses are making this year. Diane Sims, Director Edgewater golf club At Minerva, she said there has been a significant increase in play on her track this year.
She cited Edgewater rates and a steady stream of golfers on weekdays and weekends as the reason for the course’s financial boom. With the favorable weather lately, she said, people are just trying to find a way out.
Doug Switzer, supervisor at Spring Valley golf course In East Sparta, he said his study saw a significant increase between 2019 and 2021. However, this year, the track has fallen slightly off its 2021 trend, but he attributed it to rainy and cold weather earlier in the year.
“A lot of people came and said the course they used to play in was Skyland or Tami, and they didn’t realize our course was here until the coronavirus hit,” he said. “With those courses closed, they’ve found us and they’ve been touring ever since.”
Reach out to Ryan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter at @ryanmaxin, or by phone at 580-530-8412.