Summer Golf: Swinging Surge – Enjoy local golf courses with a boom in popularity after the pandemic

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Written by Zack Kavanagh

For those who have homes along San Clemente Municipal Golf Club, Shorecliffs Golf Club, or San Juan Hills Golf Club, if you think there’s been a spike in broken golf balls knocking on windows and walls, you’re hearing nothing.

There are now more golfers than ever in the United States, as the sport has enjoyed an undeniable boom over the past couple of years.

The silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic have been few and far between, but golf unexpectedly got a nugget of it. Pandemic restrictions mean most activities or venues that were due to close, but golf courses reopen quickly in 2020, as an outdoor recreational activity away from the community.

Interest rose almost immediately.

“We didn’t have enough parking in the parking lot,” said Eric Lohmann, general manager of Monarch Beach Golf Links. “It was crazy. Never seen it before. People booked weeks out. Demand seems to be growing overnight.”

According to the National Golf Foundation, 2021 set a record with 3.2 million people playing golf for the first time, with more than 3 million people also trying the sport in 2020. Both numbers surpassed the previous record of 2.4 million in 2000 at the height of a boom Tiger Woods.

Juniors entering the sport jumped 24% in 2020, which held steady in 2021 and was the biggest increase in junior golfers since 1997 — the year Tiger Woods won his first Masters.

“Every demographic has increased,” Lohmann said. “Women, children, minorities, millennials. People who have never moved out.”

In 2021, 37.5 million Americans played golf either on a golf course or off the course at a driving range, simulator, or entertainment venue such as Topgolf. Of the 25.1 million people who played golf on a course in 2021, more than 6 million were women for the second consecutive year and the first two years since 2007.

Look for these clubs on your local golf course this summer, and you may find this writer on a golf trip. Photo: Zach Kavanagh

Teaing It Up

Look no further for an example of this boom than the writer of this particular story.

I’ve played sparingly here and there over the years, and my greatest (and only) achievement has been the golf merit badge in my time as a Boy Scout. After closing and with just a few other things anyone could do, a couple of my friends who were regular golfers and more of our crew convinced me to join them for one weekend, and I said, sure, why not? I still have a bunch of clubs. What do I have to lose?

Apparently what I had to lose was a lot of weekend time ahead, money on balls, clothes and equipment, and patience for the days when I was still learning and could barely get the ball out of the box. (Note: I’m still learning a lot, and while I can make a connection, it’s not terribly far away, although it goes fairly straightforward.)

Basically, I had a new casual hobby, and like many, I was hooked.

Now, after two years of regular play and a few lessons under my belt, I’m ready to publicly display my below average ability in the “Summer of Golf” series at San Clemente Times, Dana Point Times And the Dispatch Capistrano.

For the remainder of the summer, I will be touring southern Orange County for public courses in our area. The idea of ​​the series is to showcase some of the best public courses anywhere and detail the experience of playing these courses through the eyes of the average new golfer who has joined the sport’s growing popularity.

Check out this space every week and follow my journey to possibly breaking 100 for the first time. See you on the links!

Zach Kavanagh

Zach Kavanagh is the Sports Editor at Picket Fence Media. Zack has won multiple California journalism awards and has covered sporting events in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram Tweet embed Follow our sports coverage on Twitter Tweet embed. Email at [email protected].

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