U.S. rounds show biggest drop in six years

Golf rounds in the United States fell 1.8 percent in 2008 compared to the previous year, according to the year-end National Golf Rounds Played report.
The decline is the largest since 2002 – the year following the 9-11 tragedy – when rounds plummeted 3.0 percent.
Weak December play – with rounds plunging 6.8 percent for the month – ensured that the rounds total would drop for the second consecutive year. 
States with the largest dropoffs in play for the year were Iowa (down 8.6 percent) and
Idaho-Wyoming-Montana (down 8.0 percent). Play in Hawaii also fell 7.6 percent.
One of the few bright spots was Texas, where rounds rose 6.2 percent for the year, fueled in part by a 9.4 percent gain in San Antonio and a 7.3 percent rise in Dallas-Ft. Worth.
The National Golf Rounds Played report is compiled by Golf Datatech with the cooperation of the National Golf Foundation, the National Golf Course Owners Association and the PGA of America.
Rounds played changes year-by-year
Year                        Change
2008                        -1.8 %
2007                        -0.1%
2006                        +0.8%
2005                        -0.1%
2004                        +0.7%
2003                        -1.5%
2002                        -3.0%
2001                        -0.1%

Sources: National Golf Foundation, Golf Datatech 


I like to comment on the figures that are being published to the golf industry concerning "Rounds Played"...If you call the PGA sections and ask their Executive Directors on round played you would receive a more true figure like 14% down in the last quarter. Country Clubs are currently loosing 12% to 30% of their members. Golf Companies Ball Sales are down 12% and the golf equipment is down approx the same. Because of the economy and the recession it is hurting Golf more than any other sport. Let's get real and start reporting the true facts concerning "rounds played". Golf Inventory in Golf Pro Shops is not selling through. The Golf Industry needs a "wake up call". Golf has to bring back the "Blue Collar" Golfer and Golf needs to be "Affordable for the Masses" Regards, Tom Moynihan, President NGSA/GCH

Tom makes a strong point, but to assume the entire country is experiencing all the bad he mentions is a little out of line. Golf is struggling, but areas of the country can do it well. Shop sales are miserable everywhere because the green grass shops can't compete with the big box retailers...Dick's, Golf Galaxy, etc. I believe the NGF has accurate stats, but lumps the entire country into one number. Here in the Chicago area, we are struggling due to an oversaturated market and management companies that have their eye on the bottom line, not the overall health of the game. Tom is correct: Golf needs to be "affordable for the masses"! Private clubs may be suffering, but it costs a lot of money people don't have to maintain unlimited maintenance budgets. It is time for the entire industry to take a step back and look at how they are hurting themselves! Just as a note, my clubhouse is across the street from our PGA Section office and they have not once asked how rounds are in the area...so who does have the more accurate rounds data?

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