US Rounds Played…with apologies to Dickens…”Best of Times, Worst of Times”

Like a “Tale of Two Cities” the US Golf Industry, at least when measured by rounds played, is heading in two opposite directions, with low precipitation and relatively mild temperatures for the Northern tier and Southeastern Region bolstering rounds thru February, while the West and Southwest have been pounded by cooler than normal temps and heavy precip, meaning a significant decline.  In total, rounds played are up 2.6% thru February (+5.2% in January, +0.6% in February), a good start to the year, but there’s still a long way to go, and as can be seen in the map below, Mother Nature can have a substantial positive or negative impact.


The map above shows how Year to Date rounds played have fared thru February 2017 vs. same period 2016.  The vast majority of the country remains “white”, indicating states that are typically “out of season” in January and February, however when one looks at the “% change” in these regions they are soaring, albeit off a small base, with the Mid Atlantic nearly doubling last year’s level, the East North Central up 42%, and New England increasing by 34%.

Looking at Regions/States that are in season, where one would typically see a significant number of rounds played, the South Atlantic soared, up almost 17%, while the West Region, which is also significant at this time of year was down 20%, as California, Oregon and Washington were lashed with the combination of rain and cooler temps that severely impacted golfers plans to play.

The two other significant Regions, the Mountain (-0.2%), which is dominated at this time of year by golf in Arizona, and the South Central (+1.1%), split between positive rounds in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, were offset by declines in Texas, were both on par with prior year.


Another Year…Another Show

I’ve attended every PGA Show in Orlando since 1985, and while my aching back and feet might disagree at the end of every day, there’s an excitement and energy that comes from the Show that’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it.  Just about everyone and everything of importance in the world of golf equipment, apparel, and miscellaneous golf product are under one roof for what used to be 5 full days, and today is 3 show days plus a demo day.

This year the weather for the Demo Day at Orange County National’s Range on Tuesday was nearly perfect, sunny and mid 70’s, perhaps a bit more wind than ideal, but far better than many of the cold and windy days we’ve endured before.  And there were more attendees than ever hitting balls, talking “shop”, and testing all manners of unique devices to improve everyone’s game.

Attendance on the floor seemed steady but not overwhelming.  Of course when the weather is as nice as it was during Show week 2017, the call of the golf course is strong for many, and I would not be surprised to hear many of the local golf courses had full tee sheets this week.

But more important than pure foot traffic, was the calm but positive “buzz” that seemed to pulsate thru the show.  Positive energy is hard to quantify, and certainly does not guarantee a good year at the cash register, however the overall tenor of the attendees suggests the upcoming year could well see some upside in sales.