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May 2020 National Rounds Played Report

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Rounds-played were up 6.2% nationally in May, with more than 90% of golf courses having reopened by the second week of the month.

The rebound in May comes after play declined by 42% year-over-year in April, when more than half of U.S. golf courses were shut down due to the coronavirus and related government orders.

While noteworthy, the increase for May in the Golf Datatech report might not be as significant as some in the industry expected – up 3.2% nationally at reporting public facilities. Rounds at private facilities increased by more than 18%. Through the end of May, the nationwide rounds-play figure for 2020 is -8% compared to the same time a year ago.

By May 3, 79% of golf courses had reopened across the country. That number jumped to 91% by May 10 and by May 24, 97% of courses were back in business.

There were notable surges in May rounds-played in states like Colorado (+30%), Texas (+25%), Florida (+20%), Georgia (+18%), Minnesota (+15%) and Oregon (+15%), but equally significant dips in other golf-rich locations: Michigan (-24%), South Carolina (-16%), Washington (-14%), Illinois (-13%) and North Carolina (-12).

The golf industry lost as many as 20 million spring rounds in March and April, mostly due to forced closures as well as virus-induced anxiety. The outbreak derailed a promising start to the year, as unseasonably warm weather led to an early start for golf in parts of the country typically still in their offseason during January and February. Rounds were up 15% through the first two months before March and April declines left the industry down 16% year-over-year.

NGF projections estimate that those lost spring rounds could be recouped if play was up 5% on average from May through December. Approximately half of annual rounds are played from May through August, so a prominent surge in May would have yielded a more significant head start on a comeback.

NOTE: For the foreseeable future, Golf Datatech will not report data for specific metropolitan areas, as the database of reporting courses makes some markets statistically unstable.  

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