Positive start for '09 as January rounds up sharply

American courses enjoyed a strong start to 2009, with January rounds up 8.6 percent from the previous year, according to the National Golf Rounds Played Report.
Though January rounds make up only a small portion of the overall total for the year, the numbers are encouraging, coming on the heels of a dismal fourth quarter for play that pushed the 2008 total down 1.8 percent for the year.
Both public and private play was up, almost identically – 8.8 percent at private clubs and 8.6 percent at daily fees.
Strong numbers in California and Texas (both up 30.7 percent) helped fuel the January numbers.
Play at East Coast winter resort destinations was generally down, especially in Florida, where Orlando, Jacksonville, Sarasota and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale all showed declines. Similar drops were reported in the Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach markets in South Carolina.
Hawaii play was down 10.6 percent, but Southwestern resort markets such as Phoenix and Las Vegas had healthy gains.
The PGA of America’s PerformanceTrak statistical tracking system reported that rounds gains for resort areas lagged behind the numbers for other sectors, rising just 2.0 percent. Big gains were reported at municipal/military/university facilities, which rose 16.1 percent, indicating that more players are looking for value as the economy worsens.  
More positive news came from the PerformanceTrak financial numbers. Courses reported that gross revenues were up 7.4 percent in January 2009 compared to January 2008. Despite a 1.5 percent drop in revenue on a per-round basis, the increase in rounds played yielded an overall revenue gain for courses.
Here are January 2009 and December 2008 rounds totals for selected metropolitan areas:
                                            January 2009             December 2008
Washington-Baltimore              -50.4%                           -  3.7%                       
Orlando                                    -59.9%                           -  2.2%                       
Naples-Ft. Myers                       + 2.8%                           -  2.6%
Atlanta                                     -17.2%                           -20.8%
Myrtle Beach                            -  6.5%                           -  1.2%
New York City                          - 74.8%                          +39.5%           
Chicago                                   - 68.8%                          - 37.5%           
Detroit                                    - 92.2%                          +13.6%           
St. Louis                                 - 23.1%                          +20.6%                                   
Dallas/Ft. Worth                      +36.5%                          -  7.6%           
Los Angeles                             +19.1%                          -10.1%           
San Diego                               + 22.4%                          -  9.2%
Phoenix                                   +  4.3%                           - 8.2%           
Las Vegas                                +14.2%                          -18.5%           
Seattle                                   + 32.7%                          -21.6%                                                           
Source: National Rounds Played Report
Here are the median gross revenues per facility for the month:
                                                Jan. 2009            Jan. 2008            Change
Golf fee revenue                        $12,982            $11,795               + 10.1%                       
Merchandise revenue                     2,376                 2,285              +  4.0%
Food & beverage revenue               3,018                 2,443               +23.5%
Total revenue                            $37,428              $34,861               +  7.4%                          

Source: PGA PerformanceTrak  

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