Going Green – Golf Swings into a 20-Year High

Not since 1997, the year Tiger Woods won his first title and launched the “Tiger Effect,” have we seen this many people flocking to the game of golf. Whether it’s cabin fever, lack of a commute, or the need to get outdoors and reconnect, golf has experienced a resurgence of popularity, and the Fairfax County Park Authority’s seven courses and five ranges have been along for the drive, exceeding national averages while we were at it.

Amid National Golf Month and fresh off two American Olympic gold medal wins, golf interest is at a 20-year high. In 2020, a half-million more Americans played compared to 2019, the first significant increase in golfers since 2003. Our Golf Fairfax facilities have seen the surge, coming off a record year for both rounds and range and class participants. We weren’t just welcoming back returning golfers. A wave of diverse, new and beginner golfers led the charge.

Nationally, the pool of junior golfers increased by 630,000 in 2020, raising the number of junior golfers to 3.1 million. Programs like Starting New at Golf and The First Tee Life Skills Experience incorporate life skills along with golf to encourage juniors to pause the screens and hit the greens. The number of African American, Asian, and Hispanic golfers climbed more than 300,000 to 5.1 million. Rounds played by ethnically diverse golfers increased 30%. 

An additional 450,000 women and girls were added to the U.S. golf participant base, pushing the total number of female golfers to six million for the first time since 2007.  Rounds played by females were up 25%. Tiger isn’t the only household name in the game anymore. Role models like Olympic Gold Medalist Nelly Korda and national LPGA campaigns such as #InviteHer and #LittleGirlsBigDreams spread the message that golf isn’t just for Dad.

Golf Fairfax has created an inclusive environment to accommodate and welcome all walks of life and levels of play to foster a love of the game. We aim to dispel myths that golf is for a certain age, gender, or income level. We offer programs for all and are dedicated to growing the game through affordable options.

So why is everyone headed to the greens? People are discovering and revisiting the reasons people play golf. It’s fun, it’s social and it’s a way to escape and unwind  — a way to disconnect from the world and reconnect with friends and family. It’s a time to get outside with nature and work on your health both physically and mentally.

All it takes is one great shot. Research shows that “shot euphoria” is analogous to “runner’s high,” and it’s the main thing that keeps people coming back. Our Get Golf Ready classes and private lessons taught by PGA, LPGA and USGTF professionals at six locations help with that.

Off-course golfers (driving ranges, indoor options) are also growing and on pace to outnumber on-course players in the next few years. If you build it, they will come. We’ve invested time and resources into the nationally ranked practice, lighted, covered ranges at Burke Lake and Oak Marr Golf Centers. Pinecrest also offers an indoor golf simulator.

Whether you are returning to the life-long sport you love or curious about the buzz, Golf Fairfax focuses on traditional aspects of the game coupled with inclusive, innovative, and entertaining offerings. You can play whether you own custom clubs or own no clubs at all. See you on the greens! 

Sources: National Golf Foundation and https://www.pellucidcorp.com.

Author Roberta Korzen is the Golf Marketing Specialist for the Fairfax County Park Authority.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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