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Golf Industry Overview – 2013 Rounds Played Summary

NGF’s newly released Golf Industry Overview: 2014 Edition, recaps several industry metrics which show that the golf economy is still recovering at a slower pace than the overall U.S. economy.  Rounds played, one key measure discussed in the report and typically a good barometer of the overall health of golf, dropped 4.9% from 2012 to 2013.

On the surface, the drop in rounds in 2013 looks like a trajectory change, but we should put this decrease into perspective, as the last two years represent a tale of two extremes.  Rounds jumped 5.7% in 2012, primarily because of great weather across most of the country.  But what Mother Nature giveth, she taketh away.  Poor 2013 weather returned most of the gains. PGA PerformanceTrak reported a 6.9% drop in national playable days in 2013(23 fewer days open than 2012).  The year-end days open for play were the lowest since PerformanceTrak began measuring this in 2005.  

Only five states saw rounds increase in 2013, most of which are located in the typically rainy Pacific Northwest.  Rounds played decreased in all the other states.
With weather accounting for most of the variation in rounds played over the last two years, there are a couple of facts that point to rounds stabilizing and perhaps even moving in a positive direction.  First, even though rounds played decreased from 2012 to 2013, rounds increased slightly over the two-year period from 2011 to 2013.  Second, despite the impact of poor weather, more rounds were played per day open in 2013 than in 2012 or 2011, according to PerformanceTrak.  

Rounds played are one key measure that has yet to return to pre-recession levels.  Past research has shown that recovery in the golf industry closely paralleled recovery in the overall economy after previous recessions. Though most U.S. economic indicators have been trending positively for several years now, this increasingly favorable business climate, curiously, has not supported commensurate improvement in the golf economy, and this lack of a parallel recovery is evident in the 2013 golf metrics. This suggests that there may be other socioeconomic factors at play, that demand for the game of golf has fundamentally changed in some way, or that there simply is a longer lag time between the recovery in the general economy and the point at which this recovery manifests itself in the golf industry.

For more detail, NGF’s Golf Industry Overview: 2014 Edition provides a summary snapshot of major top-line metrics from 2013, including rounds played, golf participation, golf course development, international development, golf equipment sales, and course maintenance equipment sales.  

Click here to download the report (free to NGF members).

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