Golf Participation

Rounds played in July surge nearly 20 percent versus last year

This probably won’t come as news to any golfers struggling to get a tee time, but rounds played in July moved into record territory. According to industry research firm Golf Datatech rounds played were up 19.7 percent compared to last July. For the year, rounds are also trending up 3 percent.

July’s big month set a new standard. It was the largest increase year over year for a peak golf season month since Golf Datatech began tracking rounds played figures in 2000. It also marked the third straight month that rounds played increased compared to 2019. Rounds in May were up 6.2 percent, while June also saw a double-digit gain at 13.9 percent.

Golf Datatech’s research showed that every state in the continental U.S. saw an increase in rounds of at least 2 percent. Each of the eight regions of the country tracked by Golf Datatech saw at least a 15-percent increase, led by the Mid-Atlantic region that saw rounds surge by 27 percent compared to a year ago. There were 19 states that showed a year-over-year gain in July of at least 20 percent.

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In terms of year-to-date numbers, only the Pacific region shows rounds played being down for the year compare to 2019. Play in the West North Central (12 percent) and South Central (10 percent) were both up double digits.

The July numbers seem to show some similarity in how 2020 started. Rounds played in January and February showed a promising trend, with February up 19 percent compared to 2019 and January up 11 percent. That return to a positive trend has been what golf company CEOs have been pointing to in reflecting on golf's potential for growth during the coronavirus global pandemic.

According to the National Golf Foundation, theres been a significant increase in nine-hole rounds and solo rounds this year, too. NGF data shows nine-hole rounds are up 15 percent, while the percentage of golfers whove said theyve gone out as a single golfer this year has increased from 31 percent last year to 43 percent this year.

Those numbers are especially noteworthy given where the golf course business stood in the early months of the pandemic where many states limited or even prohibited golf courses from opening. In April by comparison, rounds were off 42 percent year over year, while for the year they were down 16 percent.

It was the first time rounds played had increased in the month of July since 2014.