ROUNDS PLAYED INCREASE IN FIRST QUARTER

According to data from golf facilities from around the country, rounds were up 5.3 percent nationwide for the first quarter 2004. Traditionally, the first quarter only accounts for about 15 percent of total annual rounds, but after two years of declines due to the weak economy, a shaky employment picture, worldwide unrest and poor weather, recent gains are welcome.

Regionally, the Northeast and Mid Atlantic posted strong gains in the first quarter, partly due to having more play days — 10 more days on average in the Northeast and four more in the Mid Atlantic. The Mountain region, which had the sharpest percentage decrease for the quarter (-5.0 percent), also had significantly fewer play days — an average of 10 fewer days open in the region.

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Beyond a consideration of weather, there is evidence that rounds increased due to other factors. Rounds per play day were up 11 percent for the quarter (see full report for details). An increase in rounds per play day indicates an increase in new golfers, an increase in rounds by existing golfers, or both. The full report is available at both www.ngf.org and www.golf2020.com.

The data is based on a survey of over 1,100 golf facilities conducted by the National Golf Foundation (NGF) in the first quarter of this year. Data is statistically weighted to be representative of all U.S. golf facilities by region, type (private/public), number of holes and price point.

“This is an encouraging start to the year, but it's just the first mile of the marathon,” says GOLF 20/20 executive director Ruffin Beckwith. “Only if we are faithful to our commitment to develop and retain players will we see the positive trends continue.”

“We expect rounds played to rebound in 2004 if only because the weather was so poor the past couple of years,” adds Joe Beditz, president & CEO of NGF. “But what is even better is that we're seeing gains in activity not just due to weather but also due to a fundamental growth in demand — the increase in rounds per play days. We have three-quarters of the year left, but it's nice not to have to dig out of a first quarter hole.”

The national rounds played coalition is a joint effort of Club Managers Association of America, GOLF 20/20, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, LPGA, National Golf Course Owners Association, National Golf Foundation, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and USGA.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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