Golf clubs that rely on overseas visitors still severely disrupted

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 15, 2021 07:39

UK golf clubs, particularly ones in Scotland, that rely on overseas visitors for business are facing an extremely challenging 2021, even despite the participation surge.

For example, David Roy of Crail Golfing Society told STV: “Under normal circumstances we would be welcoming up to 10,000 visitors a year and 70 percent of them would be from overseas.

“So you can imagine, you do the arithmetic, you can imagine how much of a disruption that has been to the club and all the staff.”

Marc Gentles, owner of St Andrews Golf Travel, agrees the outlook for the next few months is worrying. He said: “About 99 percent of our business comes from the US.

“I think with the vaccine news at the end of last year we were really hopeful this would year would really go ahead in full, but I think with the travel restrictions, and us having to work with a 60 day timescale with hotels and courses we are already moving bookings till the end of July, so it’s not looking great.”

It’s not only those working directly in the sport who will be affected, with travelling golfers accounting for a majority of the summer business for some accommodation providers.

But the lifting of lockdown has meant Scottish golfers have been keen to get out on the course and that’s been a welcome boost for some.

Dumbarnie Links is Scotland’s newest golf course. It only opened last May right at the height of the first Covid lockdown. A big part of the long-term business plan is to attract US golfers but with international travel reduced they have made up for the loss of trade with the golfers coming from the UK.

General manager David Scott said: “It’s a pay and play golf course, no membership at all, so everybody coming back was paying a green fee every time.

“From a cash flow stand point we were very pleasantly surprised. Our business model is certainly aimed at the overseas visitors coming here and so to go for plan B and look at the Scottish market and get that support from them… we feel very blessed.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 15, 2021 07:39
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  1. Peter May 26, 20:34

    Social elites, professionals and celebrities will be traveling and golfing sooner than later !! The less-affluent who faced more disruption, more challenges and still seek vaccinations will be staying home or driving to locations !! There is no doubt, travel is coming back, we have a way to go !! Travelers passing through Sky Harbor are down from 2019 and likely going to be that way through 2021 ! Airlines are also shifting their priorities with more flights to cities near our National Parks !! Mexico and Hawaii are also seeing increased flights !! Doesn’t bode well for our friends in Europe !!

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  2. Wayne May 17, 11:57

    Canada is a couple of months behind the U.S. for golf travellers to go to the UK and Ireland Alistair due to the slower vaccine roll-out. We have more restrictions and quarantining than Americans. Ontario has even locked down golf courses now due to the spread. 2022 is more likely for us while Americans may be more willing to travel later this summer, if allowed in country. The vaccine passport/certificate will be the new travel tool.

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