More than ever, perhaps, industry executives are clinging to a long-held notion that golf is immune to an economic downturn. But is it really?
For years, a belief has been perpetuated through clubhouses that golfers are so enamored with their game they’ll defy logic, or at least Adam Smith-like economic models of decision-making, and somehow find a way to tee it up with their regular foursomes – even if they have to use food stamps at the halfway house for lunch.
There’s certainly some evidence to support golf’s resiliency. Even as companies started paring back on corporate entertainment a few years ago, and 9/11 knocked the starch out of golf travel, level of play didn’t plummet. Rounds, which peaked in 2000 at 518.4 million in the U.S., fell 4.5 percent to 495 million in 2003, but remained virtually unchanged over the next three years (2004-06), according to the National Golf Foundation. Meanwhile, equipment sales basically have held steady at just less than $3 billion annually between 2004-07.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s recession proof—but perhaps recession resistant.