After a phenomenal November, odds were that December would disappoint which came true with Golf Playable Hours (GPH) declining 6% compared to the same month Year-Ago (YA). That result didn't much "dent" the Year-to-Date (YtD) figure which finished the year at +2% YtD (in our neutral zone classification). YtD regional GPH breadth finished in the "favorable" column (2:1) with 18 favorable regions outnumbering 9 unfavorables with 18 in the neutral zone (+/- 2%). Subscribers to either the Pellucid Publications Membership or the Geographic Weather Impact report get the 45 regional breakdowns, the 61 markets figures, the day-of-week weather impact and the Year-End National GPH forecast figure as well as our full commentary on the results every month.
Played Rounds for November published by Golf Datatech posted a 6th consecutive month of double-digit gains (and continued month-to-month acceleration in rate, wow!) proving that golf continues to benefit from the "COVID dividend/bounce" and, as long as other alternatives remain banned, it's the gift that keeps on giving for golf. November rounds were +57% and that, again, edges out the previous month for "best month" honors and makes it five consecutive months of 20%+ growth in "comps". For the year that now puts us at a national level at +13% vs. YA and, while Private still outpaces Public (+18% vs. +12%), the November results continue the trend of fairly even gains with both sectors posting ~55% gains.
Jim Koppenhaver comments, "The slight downer in GPH for December likely won't have much of an impact on the incredible year's performance and there are no indicators which suggest that rounds demand will follow it into negative territory for the month given that nothing else in the macro situation has changed. As you'll hear in the State of the Industry, we're projecting that rounds will threaten 500M for the year and that will have occurred with only marginal positive weather support at the national level and for most regions (in fact, some of our 45 weather-based regions have posted GPH declines and they're still seeing 10%+ demand increases). For the first time in the 15 years since we started quantifying weather impact, rounds demand and GPH/Capacity Rounds have become "uncoupled" driven (pretty much exclusively from our vantage point) by COVID and the absence of most other recreational sports and a significant reduction in spectator sports alternatives. The key questions for '21 will be "How long will the current favorable environment last?" and "How much of the golf "halo" will we be able to retain when the US transitions to the new normal?" All questions which we'll attempt to attack in...our '20 State of the Industry discussion (sorry for the repetition but it's true). Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and success in navigating the landscape as it changes (with facts and resulting good reasoning, of course) in '21. We'll also be announcing soon an initiative for individual facilities, local markets and industry-level performance tracking and benchmarking starting in Q1; stay tuned and I hope you'll participate if you're a facility owner/operator or stakeholder in golf operations.