With more than half of U.S. golf courses shut down for most of April, national rounds played were down 42% during the month compared to a year ago.
On April 5, only 44% of courses were open due to the coronavirus and the overall supply remained under 50% open the next two weeks (48% on April 12 and 49% on April 19). It wasn’t until later in the month, when states such as Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and New York allowed courses to reopen, that the nationwide percentage of openings climbed to 58%.
The expected but significant decline in April pushed the rounds-played figure for 2020 to -15.6% year-over-year.
With all states now having lifted restrictions on golf, the demand for golf in May has been strong, according to anecdotal findings and early survey results that indicate the majority of facilities report rounds-played are average or above average. The question becomes whether the more recent momentum in increased participation will be able to offset the decline in April and, to a lesser extent, in March, when rounds-played dropped 8.5% as the first effects of the coronavirus were felt in the U.S. golf market.
For April, play was down 100% in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Washington, New Mexico, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, according to Golf Datatech.
Rounds were down 82% in golf-rich California given widespread county restrictions on golf, while Michigan saw a 79% decline after its courses were only allowed to open for the final week of the month. In Florida, where Palm Beach County restricted courses from opening for almost all of April, rounds were down 29% statewide.
It is also noteworthy that in South Carolina, which didn’t have significant restrictions and close to 90% of facilities remained open, that rounds declined 45% for the month. In Minnesota, however, rounds were actually up almost 4% year-over-year even though courses weren’t allowed to open until April 18 – about a week later than in most years.
For the year, private clubs are down much less significantly than public facilities (2% vs 19%). This would suggest that while a similar number of facilities were closed during April, the private clubs that were open were doing a greater amount of business, on the whole.