Golf Datatech exhibits rounds performed, retail gross sales soared
Consider this further evidence that you should book your tee times early: Golf Datatech reported Monday that the total number of rounds of golf played in the U.S. in 2020 increased 13.9 percent in 2019, largely due to golfers looking for recreational opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This annual increase in rounds set a record for the percentage increase since Golf Datatech began tracking the number of rounds played in 1998. The previous record was a 5.7 percent increase in the number of rounds played in 2012.
According to Golf Datatech, golf equipment retail sales also increased $ 2.81 billion in 2020. This represents an increase of 10.1 percent from 2019, making 2020 the third highest annual total since Golf Datatech began tracking the industry, which was just $ 2.91 billion in 2008 and just $ 2.87 billion in 2007 .
“As the global pandemic wreaked havoc in many areas of our economy, the golf industry saw a significant increase in the number of rounds played and equipment sales,” said John Krzynowek, partner at Golf Datatech, in a press release announcing the increase in the number of rounds played. “On the equipment side, sales rose low-single digits in both 2018 and 2019, but the double-digit gains in 2020 are only due to the pandemic and golf being a respite for so many.”
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These year-long increases came despite the fact that golf ceased in many states when the pandemic hit the nation in March and April. The rounds played in March were down 8.5 percent from the same period in 2019, and the rounds in April were down 42.2 percent, according to reports from Golf Datatech and the National Golf Foundation.
Then came the surge as golf was recognized as a relatively safe escape during the pandemic. The number of rounds played increased by 6.2 percent in May 2020 compared to May 2019, followed by increases of 13.9 percent in June, 19.7 percent in July, 20.6 percent in August, 25.5 percent in September, 32, 2 percent in October and 57.5 percent in November. The information for December was released on Monday. The rounds of the month increased 37 percent from December 2019. This was no doubt aided by good weather in winter golf situations like Florida, Arizona, and California.
“Golf Datatech began collecting and projecting monthly lap data in January 1998 and has been the industry’s exclusive monthly metric ever since,” said Krzynowek. “We have never seen an annual surge close by, as the previous record surge was in 2012, a year when we had near-perfect weather in much of the US and the number of laps we played increased by 5.7 percent. While there is no doubt that the pandemic gave the golf business a positive boost in 2020, a warmer, drier climate in much of the US also created more potential tee times that the golf community consumed passionately … and continued to ask for more. “
The number of rounds played varied greatly from region to region. The area defined by Golf Datatech as West North Central – Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota – saw a 23.1 percent increase in rounds in 2020 compared to 2019. This is only an annual percentage of 4, 8 percent rise – the smallest of all regions in the US – in the Pacific region of California, Oregon and Washington.
It is important to note that profits are not evenly distributed across the industry. Some resorts that rely on air travel are particularly hard hit after the pandemic, as golfers prefer to travel to local and regional destinations. And the percentage increase in the number of rounds played does not necessarily mean a steady increase in revenue, as many clubs have lost revenue from food and drink as well as events such as weddings.
In retail, too, profits weren’t even cross-category. While rackets, balls, and other hard goods revenues rose and many equipment manufacturers struggled to meet demand as inventories decreased, sales of some categories of soft goods remained behind.
For example, Golf Datatech reported that apparel sales in 2020 were down 14.2 percent from 2019, mainly because access to pro-shops selling green grass was restricted by the pandemic and more publicly available golfers were booking online rounds. Loss of rounds at resorts that rely on air travel also decreased overall apparel sales as fewer players were on-site to purchase logo merchandise. Meanwhile, online apparel sales increased and despite the overall annual decline, apparel sales increased 11 percent in the last two months of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
Golf Datatech broadly reported that aggregate consumer demand across the golf industry, as measured by dollars spent, increased 3.2 percent from 2019.
“Given the state of the golf economy in late spring, anything positive had to be counted as a big win,” said Krzynowek. “December data continues to impress, suggesting the company may still have room to run in early 2021. …
“Golf fared better than many other US industries during the pandemic as facilities on and off the pitch effectively customized their operations to suit customers, while adhering to guidelines from the CDC and local and national health departments. Overall, the golf industry can be proud of the way it has dealt with the adversity caused by the pandemic, but must always be aware that we must all remain on guard until a vaccine is distributed and widespread immunity is in place. ”