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Is Golf’s Pandemic Dividend Slipping Away?

Golf Datatech recently released the latest National Rounds Played Report* and it shows April rounds down 13% compared to same month last year, and down 10% year-to-date. Is this a sign that golf’s pandemic dividend is eroding? Possibly. Running behind prior year rounds is the continuation of a trend that began nine months ago – the second half of 2021 trailed the boom year of 2020 by about 7%.

And yet, important to consider the following:

  1. So far in 2022, weather appears to have had a significant impact. Pellucid reports golf playable hours (computed using detailed weather data from across the country) were down 14% over the first four months of the year, compared to same period last year.
  2. The first third of the golf year (Jan-Apr), which you can loosely call golf’s ‘winter,’ may be high season in places like Florida and Arizona, when a large percentage of annual rounds are played by migratory ‘snowbirds,’ but it’s low season in most other places, as golf courses are either closed for extended periods or open sporadically as weather permits. Golf’s winter generally accounts for 20% of total annual rounds, so while we’d of course like to start the year up, being down 10% equates to only a 2% annual impact.
  3. Other metrics and parts of the golf business continue to show strength. Club and ball sales are up 14 percent in wholesale dollars year-to-date, golf’s online search popularity remains elevated and stable, and though rounds played are down, golf revenue per round is up compared to last year.

With 80 percent of 2022 rounds yet to be played, it’s much too early to speculate on how the year might end up. Golf’s summer season is upon us and will be the real bellwether for golf demand. So, let’s hope for better weather and full tee sheets over the next few months, so that rounds may continue to trend above the pre-pandemic average.

For a more detailed look at rounds played through April, CLICK HERE

*NGF contributes rounds played data to the report and conducts certain analyses of its own, such as those presented here.


For a historical archive of monthly rounds-played reports, CLICK HERE

For a more in-depth look at this topic, CLICK HERE for a related ‘Spotlight’ sidebar story.

Joseph Beditz
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