The surprising day and time when golfers are playing more than ever
The weekend foursome is still popular.
And so there seems to be the grouping on Wednesday afternoons.
That’s what a new Stanford University study says about working from home. Findings included that WFH fueled a golf boom — and did so in dramatic fashion at perhaps unusual times.
We’ll dive into some of the data in a moment — because three quotes from the study sum it up nicely.
“You can’t tell the difference between the week and the weekend,” a consulting executive in Phoenix said in January this year. “The place is full all the time every day. It’s backed up in the late afternoon.”
“We wanted to renovate the course in 2021, but golf is booming so much that we have put this on hold,” said a golf course manager in February. “Every class, every minute is now packed all week long with no more quiet Wednesdays.”
“I think my colleague took his Zoom call from the golf course,” a California tech executive said in January. “He was mute and the video was off, but as he spoke once I heard someone talking about the fairway and shots.”
The last quote is laughable. It’s funny. But maybe you know someone who did something similar. Or did it yourself.
According to a study:
– “Golf course trips” have increased after the pandemic. One of the most notable figures: In August 2022, trips increased by 52 percent compared to August 2019.
— The increase was driven by weekday golf. In 2019 there were 11,400 trips on Tuesdays, 10,800 on Wednesdays and 15,000 on Thursdays. 2022? The numbers were 25,800, 26,200 and 26,300, respectively.
– The weekday surge took place throughout the day, peaking at 4pm on Wednesday with a 278% (!) surge.
— Friday, Saturday and Sunday were popular in 2019, so the increase was smaller — Saturday 2022 was actually below 2019 levels.
In compiling its data, the study identified 3,400 US golf courses through AI analysis of satellite imagery and used anonymized vehicle and phone GPS data to determine trips to the golf course. The study also believed that these WFH played golf during the break.
A PowerPoint presentation of the study also asked this question:
“So is golfing bad during WFH?”
We will end our story with his answer:
“It matters – if employees make up time later (as in Bloom, Han and Liang 2023), then this does not reduce productivity. In fact, national productivity has been strong during/after the pandemic.
“If people stay productive, that could be good indeed. Golf courses are used more by spreading play throughout the day and week, avoiding peak loads at weekends and before/after work. This increases “golf productivity” – the number of golf courses played (and revenue generated) per course.
“This improved usage and productivity is likely to apply to other leisure pursuits such as shopping, gyms, sports and personal services.
“So WFH can improve national productivity by using personal assets – golf courses, shops, gyms, hairdressers, etc. – more efficiently. That size can also be big — in our gulf data, productivity is up about 50%, and these “leisure” activities are a significant part of GDP.”
Editor’s Note: To view the Stanford University PowerPoint presentation, please click here. And to read another story about free time and working from home in the New York Times, please click here.
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