NSW Golf clubs keep getting better at social media despite Covid


Over 700,000 Facebook engagements and 37,000 published posts were two key findings of Shunt’s five-year analysis of over 200 NSW golf clubs. Through 2020, golf glided through the worst of the Covid disruptions keeping its core metrics close to par or indeed improving on the previous year’s performance outcome in a rare positive for the sports industry. 

A five-year Shunt analysis (2015-19) of golf clubs and resorts in New South Wales has highlighted that the number of posts published were up 56%, while audience engagement climbed a massive 218% as the performance of posts (an engagement to productivity ratio) also improved by a substantial 104%.

Edge of the rough


Strong, year-on-year increases in the number of posts published has been the order of the day for golf clubs and resorts across New South Wales as productivity improved by 8% in 2016 then 9% (2017) and 19% in 2019. Totalling 43,000 in 2019, the sport was on-track for an even bigger result in 2020.   

Against an industry backdrop of a fall in post publishing equivalent to 21% New South Wales golf out-performed last year with content published down just 12% on 2019 levels. This represented a drop of 5,257 posts across the state.  

Almost Par

While the internal productivity systems and processes across New South Wales golf steadily improved resulting in consistent output increases the outlook for audience engagement (total Facebook reactions, comments and shares) was even better.

2016 engagement levels were up 29% on the previous year, with 2017 posting a whopping return of 42% boost and then in 2018 an equally impressive 38% uplift.

As with each sport Shunt has assessed to date these results couldn’t be sustained through 2020 with total reactions, comments and shares falling from a 2019 high of over 740,000 to 712,000 last year – representing a meagre 4% drop.

Once again, golf clubs and resorts easily beat a concerning Shunt industry average of minus 35%.

Rare result as golf clubs get better

The real test of how healthy and robust a sports social media presence is the performance of posts published. This simple ratio that divides total engagement by the number of posts is a key indicator of how efficient and effective they are.

When engagement growth far exceeds increasing productivity levels the net result is continual improvement in New South Wales golf post performance from 2015 to ‘19.

With the average number of engagements per post increasing from 8.44 (2015) to 17.22 (2019) it suggests the sports clubland have become more and more efficient in how they manage their time on social media.

Defying the odds in 2020, golf clubs and resorts actually improved their performance even further upping the average to 18.88 representing a 10% improvement through all the disruptions and lockdowns associated with Covid-19.

A sure sign of a sport that has a handle on its social media and the delicate interplay between informing and engaging audiences.

April dip then a steady output increase

As per other sports Shunt has analysed to date, the productivity profile of golf clubs and resorts in New South Wales started well with 3,231 posts in January then peaked at 3,904 in March just as Covid lockdowns nationally started to take effect.  

Content published dropped down to its lowest level for the year in April at 2,600 before starting a slow but persistent climb back to February levels (3,457) by October before tapering down into the Christmas and New Year break.

April dip then a steady engagement decline

A recurring social media theme is that engagement typically tracks closely against productivity. As it relates to grassroots clubland at least, the golden rule is that the more you post, the greater the audience engagement response.

This doesn’t seem to be the case for golf clubs and resorts in NSW in what is a major departure from the norm.

In what may be one of the unforeseen outcomes of Covid the first quarter of 2020 started like it should with engagement tracking closely against productivity. Once national lockdowns came into effect though something strange happened.

As productivity bottomed-out and began to climb from April onwards total Facebook engagement for golf went the other way with the decline continuing right the way through to December when there was a small uptick. This again, bucks the prevailing trend as productivity actually marginally decreased in December.

This warrants further investigation.

It could be an unexpected anomaly associated with Covid in which case the engagement trend will turn around in 2021 once the situation nationally returns to a ‘new normal’. If it doesn’t it may signal a bigger issue.

The other factor to consider is that golf just had an unusually active first quarter in 2020 that is distorted by the year-end results. This may be the case, as overall engagement is only down 3.77% on 2019 putting the sport in the top 10% of performers amongst sports analysed by Shunt to date.

Time will tell.

Bonville several strokes ahead of Opal Cove

Closing-out 2020, the Bonville Golf Resort had a several stroke audience lead (equivalent to a 1,000 fans) over its nearest rival the Opal Cove Resort at Coffs Harbour.

With Bonville and Opal Cove the only two golf clubs or resorts to have a following in excess of 10,000 next best was the Shelly Beach Golf Club with an audience a little over 7,000.  

Hay hammers post publishing

Publishing a post a day is an achievement, posting more than five times a day (5.32) puts the Hay Bowling and Golf Club amongst an elite handful of 8,000 plus clubs analysed by Shunt to date.

Looking down the Shunt Top-10 every golf club and resort mentioned has indeed hit the +1 per day marker with the Links Shell Cove coming in at 1.71 and Grafton District Golf Club at 1.54.

This feat is rare and speaks volumes as to the significant capacity and capabilities golf clubs in NSW have at their disposal in order to maintain these output levels.

Making Hay with top engagement

Hay Bowling and Golf Club epitomises the Shunt golden rule of social media that the more content you publish the more engagement you are likely to receive. Having comfortably topped the productivity rankings the club was also at the top of the leaderboard for total reactions, comments and shares on Facebook with 34,000 last year.

The runner-up was the Tocumwal Golf & Bowls Club with more than 20,000 followed by the number two club for content, the Links Shell Cove (18,302).

Bonville a performance powerhouse

Shunt’s performance metric is all about striking the right balance between content quality and quantity with the Bonville Golf Resort nabbing bragging rights as the highest performing club or resort in the state at average engagements per post of over 90 (91.05).

Next-up was the Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort with a 66.66 average per post followed by the Talbingo Country Club on a little over 50 (51.97) while the Calderwood Valley Golf Course was a little under (47.25).

Research notes;

207 Golf clubs and resorts across New South Wales with a Facebook page were analysed as part of this report. Results are for Facebook only. Annual data from January 2015 to December 2020 inclusive. 2020 results from January 1st to December 31st inclusive.

Uncertain as to what 2021 has in store?
You’re not the only one! Throughout 2020, Shunt doubled-down on its work with our state and national sports clients to proactively expand their situational awareness. If you also want your ‘socials’ to deliver actionable insights that ensure you don’t just survive, but thrive then let’s chat. Get in touch at info@shunt.com.au



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