Whump!! That’s the sound of the big bag of money hitting your pro shop counter. Does your golf cost more since the pandemic started? In large metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C., the prices are on the rise. Since the sport is played safely outdoors, people are gravitating to it in droves, and away from indoor recreation. Golf facilities are reacting to the market forces of supply and demand and here’s my observations on price; are they different from yours?
On the way up. The best leading indicator is the price of new drivers. Callaway’s Epic Max and TaylorMade’s SIM2 Max will now set you back $529 (off-the-shelf). Top of the line big sticks were typically $399 pre-Covid, and as we know, golf fans have a new infatuation with Bryson DeChambeau’s big dog length off the tee. Just add “Max” to the branding and ring the register.
Up about 20-30% across the board. This includes municipal facilities and daily fee courses. At my club, I’m playing on a 4-year membership that was pre-paid for a certain number of rounds. My cost per round, which includes a cart, came out to $47. The same membership is being offered now but requires you to play an equivalent number of rounds but in just two years and requires you to tee off one hour later. The cost per round: $60. Clearly the club is trying to fill their tee sheet with more expensive ala cart tee times and the availability at my club and the muni’s I frequent has definitely gone down. I will be rethinking my membership situation after this season is over. Interestingly, I have booked a time for Wednesday of next week at The Links of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and noticed they’ve not increased their rates over last year. It may be that the farther out you go from the big population centers, the lower the price increases.
Up 40-50% across the board. The size of a practice basket has shrunk. Initially, facilities wanted you to spend less time on the range, as it supposedly helped with social distancing. That theory has been debunked a bit, but the size of the range baskets remained the same and the cost went up. They can get it so why not? I haven’t been too affected since I spend the majority of my practice time working with my bag shag (own balls) around the practice greens, but the driving range at my club is always packed. Definitely a cash cow for the facilities.
Travel in general is more expensive with the reopening. Golf packages are still reasonable (stay and play combos) but airfares to your destination sites are going up. You can still find deals if you fly to major hubs. Lodging is on the increase as hotels, AirB&B, and VBRO operators are making up for lost revenue. Demand for leisure lodging is driving prices, but the full affect won’t be felt until business travel recovers. The biggest increase by far is the price of rental cars. Wow! I just booked a trip to Florida and the cost of a mid-size car exceeds that of round-trip airfare for two people! Hertz may just emerge from bankruptcy if this continues. Gas is a bit higher but is more subject to the price of oil on the world stage.
Up about 25%, but why not? This is where your local pros make their money and with the influx of new players, lesson time is at a premium. Spend your golfing dollars here on a limited budget. Invest in the carpenter, then the tools. Still, you should proceed with caution and go with a recommendation on selecting a teacher or coach. I perused Golftec.com for their latest offerings, and while they don’t list price, they sell an inordinately large number of lessons inside of golf packages. The largest package is 52 lessons to be used in one year and that feels excessive. You need plenty of play to go along with your instruction, so be careful when buying lessons in bulk.
That’s my take on the new costs during Covid. Have you observed the same increases?