Rounds Played: Almost, But Not Quite…
( Click to listen to audio version)
A year ago, we were putting the finishing touches on a record-setting 2021, with more rounds of golf played at U.S. courses than ever before.
And throughout this year, questions lingered: Would demand dip? Would golf’s Covid dividends begin to wane?
While there has been a slight decline from a year ago, indications are this is attributable to weather more than demand.
With November play showing a 10% year-over-year decline and only December’s rounds data left to collect, we note that play has been down YOY in seven-of-11 months in 2022. Projecting the remainder of the year, and accounting for a much smaller volume of play in December and seasonal facility closings, we’ll finish just 2.5% to 3% shy of 2021’s record play levels.
Not bad at all.
There are two important points of note here:
First, this expected YOY change is in line with typical year-over-year weather-related variances (about +/- 2% to 3% annually).
Secondly, this is still one of the most productive years for play in history. When we look at 2022, total rounds will end up somewhere between 2020 and 2021. And when you look at the average (or just the visual above), you’ll see that all three years are well ahead of the three-year, pre-pandemic average. (Comparing the two three-year periods, Covid-era play is up about 16%)
As we barrel into 2023, one of our most frequently-asked questions remains: are we going to be able to hold up this volume? Throughout last year, we hedged our bet and said there was too much uncertainty to say for sure. Well, there’s probably even more uncertainty ahead for us in 2023: inflation, rising interest rates, a probable recession, worldwide market and political instability.
So, can golf remain a recreational priority, even in light of these uncertainties? Judging by the other challenges and uncertainties we’ve weathered over the last three years, it sure seems possible. As ever, we’ll keep you posted.
Happy Holidays and all best wishes!
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