April's weather impact went slightly south but, with the number of geographies stymied for the month by state actions prohibiting golf, it's likely we're not going to feel much weather-related pain as Golf Playable Hours (GPH) were down 6% nationally. That's our first month in the negative column this year and erodes the Year-to-Date (YtD) result to +7%. YtD regional GPH breadth remains positive however registering 2:1 with 27 favorable regions outnumbering 12 unfavorable region, while 6 are in the neutral zone of +/- 2% and all regions now, at least by our weather rules, in season. Weather impact by day-of-week (weekends vs. weekdays, individual days) and the full-year GPH forecast figures are available to Pellucid Publications Members and Weather Impact subscribers.
Played Rounds for March published by Golf Datatech reflected the impact of COVID restrictions as they dropped 9% despite GPH favorability of +24% for the month. For the year they're reporting +4% against our +19% GPH but, given the current pandemic backdrop, all bets are off regarding the expected correlation between weather and rounds demand. Information on weather impact, rounds and Utilization for the 61 underlying markets are available as well to PPM and Weather Impact subscribers.
Jim Koppenhaver comments, "There's not much to be said regarding the current situation except it has to get better in May and beyond. The most recent NGF projection is that we'll be back to 75%+ courses open by the end of May although that's going to be with social distancing rules which will dampen both rounds (walking only or single rider carts) and revenue (cart revenue in particular will take a sizeable hit followed F&B revenue losses for the golfers who actually do make it out to the course (due to delivery mode and dining restrictions). Despite all this, it does appear that the weather will attempt to pull us along for the balance of the year so that will be a much-appreciated tailwind for a change when we desperately need it. It's going to be a tough season for many and, even with the favorable weather, I believe COVID will accelerate a culling of the herd among golf courses by the end of the '20 season. While it sounds harsh, that won't be a bad thing for the industry in general and it won't necessarily constrain the demand for golf in that it will be lower while we continue to operate under restricted play rules and the fact that we still had ~8% too much supply coming into COVID. Good luck to all in being one of the survivors and likelier a healthier competitive market in '21 and hopefully we'll get back to pre-COVID playing conditions (despite all those folks saying "we're never going back, I think that much of the way golf was played will return to a normalcy that is closer to pre-COVID than in-COVID)."