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November 2020 Rounds Played Report

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November rounds were up almost 57% nationally over a year ago, according to Golf Datatech’s monthly report, extending an upward trend in the U.S. since coronavirus restrictions were lifted on golf operations.

With only December play left to account for in 2020, the industry is 13.1% ahead of last year’s pace despite the loss of 20 million spring rounds due to virus-related course shutdowns and anxiety.

November continued a streak of notable upward monthly increases, with play up in all but two states (Florida and New Mexico) in the continental United States. June play was up 14% YOY, followed by increases of approximately 20% in July, 21% in August, 26% in September and 32% in October.

While November is a lower-volume month, typically accounting for less than 7% of annual play, the increase translates to approximately 16.5 million additional rounds nationwide than in November 2019.

“Typically, it’s a time of year when much of the country is starting to wind down for winter and it can be uncomfortable to be outside to play,” said Golf Datatech Partner John Krzynowek. “This year, however, we had above average weather for playing the game, continuing a lengthy streak of minimal precipitation and warm temperatures.”

Since June, the surges in play have yielded almost 70 million incremental rounds compared to a year ago. For the year, the net gain is almost 57 million extra rounds over 2019, when 441 million rounds of golf were played at the nation’s more than 16,000 golf courses.

While Hawaii has experienced a significant drop in play since March due to restrictions on travel (-35% for the year), November marked the first time in the past six months that states within the continental U.S. were down year-over-year. Florida (-4.5%), particularly the southern part of the state, was affected by rain and flooding caused by tropical storm Eta early in the month while New Mexico (-19.4%) was under a statewide order that closed non-essential businesses, including golf courses, for two weeks.

For the year, play at public courses is up almost 12% over 2019 while rounds at private clubs have jumped by almost 19%.

Weather-related fluctuation usually accounts for a 2% to 3% difference in the total number of rounds played from year to year. The only year in the past two decades that the U.S. saw an increase of more than 3% was in 2012, when play rose 5.7% in part because of an early-season heatwave that contributed to heavier offseason play in some parts of the country.

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