Rounds down just 0.9% at U.S. courses in 2009

Despite the U.S. economy suffering through its worst recession in 80 years, rounds at U.S. golf courses in 2009 were off less than 1 percent from the previous year.
According to the year-end Golf National Rounds Played report issued by Golf Datatech, rounds at year’s end were down 0.6 percent from 2008. The report is compiled with the cooperation of the National Golf Foundation, National Golf Course Owners Association and the PGA of America.
Poor weather in December pushed the total for the month to 14.7 percent below December of 2008. But since December rounds make up only a small portion of annual play, the weak total didn’t significantly lower the overall number for 2009. 
For the year, four of the report’s seven regions reported slight gains, led by the West North Central, which was up 3.1 percent. The Pacific region was level for the year.
Play at private clubs fell 1.8 percent, while public course play was down only 0.3 percent, according to Golf Datatech.
Metro areas enjoying the largest gains for the year included Pittsburgh (+6.9 percent) Cleveland (+6.6 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul (+4.0 percent), Columbus (+3.8 percent), Las Vegas (+3.4 percent) and St. Louis (+3.3 percent).
Most significant declines were reported in Birmingham, Ala., (-9.3 percent), Atlanta and Charleston (-9.1 each), Miami/Ft. Lauderdale (-5.4 percent), Myrtle Beach (-5.0 percent) and Denver (-4.0 percent).
Median course revenue, tracked by the PGA PerformanceTrak survey, was down 5.3 percent for the year. For December, overall revenue was off by 8.1 percent.
Here are per facility gross revenue numbers for U.S. courses:
                                     Dec. 2009  Dec. 2008   Change
Median golf fee revenue   $22,389      $ 26,008      -13.9%
Median merchandise revenue  8,940      10 ,139     -11.8%
Median food & beverage rev. 26,430       28,415       - 7.0%
Median total revenue         $86,629    $ 94,300       - 8.1%
                                     YTD 2009   YTD 2008   Change
Median golf fee revenue     $781,634     822,967     - 5.0%           
Median merchandise rev.     130,274     147,051    -11.4%
Median food & beverage rev. 383,463    405,029     - 5.3%
Median total revenue        $1,640,633  $1,737,475 - 5.6%

Source: PGA PerformanceTrak  


With rounds down only .9% and revenues down somewhere between 5% to 8% obviously average price per round has decreased. Therefore this seems to be the “trade down” effect. As a result there will be both winners and losers with this trend. The opportunities exist for public and semi-private clubs in the middle to lower tier of the price categories. Retail has especially has suffered with a decline of about 11%. Again the opportunity will be for those that can provide price point goods that are in line with green fee prices at mid and lower level facilities. The losers are going to be private (especially high end) and manufacturing companies. Both high-end golf and retail are seeing consumer price sensitivity. To stimulate demand golf companies especially in hard goods have to produce products a price points that consumers can digest. Additionally better partnerships with retailers are going to be key to sustainability.

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