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December 2020

2020 in Review: Legislation, COVID, and Operations

By: Ronnie Miles

As this year comes to an end, we can all agree it cannot finish fast enough. The coronavirus has changed almost every phase of our professional and personal lives. One positive our industry realized is golf was one of the few outdoor recreation activities states approved for reopening. The National Golf Foundation forecasts 2020 total rounds to be up over 8% over 2019, while losses of food and beverage sales related to weddings, parties and golf outings impacted many properties. Fortunately, due to the creativity of the industry’s best, these losses have been tempered by the introduction of new delivery methods and menu designs. During this year’s RevCon, we heard many great stories that have enabled operators to recover their business while still meeting the different states’ COVID-19 protocols.

Single user carts became a challenge for many operators. With increased demand and local protocols requiring single-rider golf carts, many courses found themselves unable to meet the cart demand. The cart manufacturers responded quickly by assisting members with the additional temporary inventory. As local executive orders permitted double-rider carts, the industry then faced customers that had become accustomed to riding alone and were reluctant to transition back to riding with another golfer, even if they came to the course together. It also helped that many golfers chose to walk versus taking a golf cart. Golf courses found it challenging to reinstate the double-rider cart requirement. Many operators reported increased damage to their turf due to increased cart traffic, while others enjoyed the improved speed of play. So today, we have no industry-standard. Owners and operators have found new ways to meet this new demand while offering all guests a quality experience.

As we look forward to 2021, what can we expect? As I write this article, the elections are still a few weeks away. Regardless of the outcome, we are sure to see a turnover of players in Washington. We anticipate COVID-19 initiatives being on the agenda for the House and Senate. One that has been filed this year that will impact our owners and operators in the House is the “Promoting Flexibility for Small Business Owners Act”. If passed this would forgive all Paycheck Protection Payment loans less than $150,000. Another is the “Pandemic Risk Insurance Act”, which provides commercial lines of property and casualty insurance coverage,  including event cancellation insurance or other non-property contingent business interruption insurance, provided or made available for losses resulting from periods of suspended business operations.

At the state level, COVID-19 will remain a top priority throughout the country, but several other proposed bills could impact our industry if passed in their current form. One is a bill that increases individual income tax rates on high-income individuals, which would include our pass-thru business owners. On a positive note, we will see an increase in the number of states that have passed or introduced legislation calling for limiting business’s liability to pandemic related lawsuits.

We all look forward to 2021 and hope an early successful vaccine arrives so we can all begin to find our new normal!

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