According to a survey by the National Golf Foundation, golf is now played in 206 of 251 countries and dependent territories. That includes a nine-hole course on Christmas Island.
Around 82 percent of the world’s countries have golf courses, totaling more than 38,000. Only 7-Eleven and Subway have more physical business locations around the world.
The NGF maintains the official database of golf courses worldwide. A dedicated team verifies the operational status of all golf facilities – on a 12-month cycle within the U.S., and every 24 months globally. New courses in planning and under construction are also tracked.
While golf is widely dispersed, it also remains highly concentrated, with 80% of courses in the top 10 best-supplied countries. The U.S. is home to 42 percent of the world’s courses (more than 16,000), followed by Japan (3,140) and the United Kingdom (3,101).
Here in the U.S., despite losing several months’ worth of rounds in many states as COVID-19 precautions led to courses being temporarily shuttered, 2020 saw an increase of 13.9 percent in total rounds played over 2019, Golf Datatech and the NGF have reported.
The increases in rounds played have come as players — both new golfers and veteran players — sought quarantine relief in the relatively safe environments of golf courses.
And the increase in play has been maintained in 2021. In fact, many resorts are completely booked for the remainder of the year, some well into 2022. For example, Bandon Dunes has on its website a warning about extremely high call volumes from people looking to books golf vacations. Bandon Dunes is home to five of the top 10 courses on Golfweek’s Best list of top resort layouts in the U.S.
“We’re experiencing record-breaking occupancy rates and golf rounds throughout 2021, even with the addition of 24 new guest rooms that we opened on August 1,” said Don Crowe, general manager of Bandon Dunes. “This demand continues into 2022 based on early booking trends and high call volume in our reservations department. For larger groups with multiple night stays, we recommend that groups start the booking process at least a year in advance.”
The same is happening around the country at top resorts. For a Midwest example, Destination Kohler in Wisconsin – host of this month’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits and home to four top-ranked courses in all – is running a website warning about unprecedented call volume and advising guests to use its new online booking system.