Strong 2012 for US golf industry


Sean Dudley

Figures from the National Golf Foundation show that 2012 was among the US golf industry's strongest years in the last decade.

Total rounds played in 2012 were up by 5.7 per cent on the previous year, or more than 26 million extra rounds of golf. Rounds played figures have declined for much of the past ten years, by a total of 11 per cent – the 2012 growth alone recovers more than half of that drop.

Almost every state saw an improvement over 2011, but the engine for growth was the northern half of the country, where average year-on-year growth was 9.5 per cent. Improved weather was the biggest influence on rounds played: PGA PerformanceTrak reports a 6.5 per cent increase in playable days nationwide in 2012.

But NGF notes that weather isn't the only driver, with national measures of consumer confidence and spending showing consistent moves upward from the numbers seen at the depths of the recession. PerformanceTrak also reported that median golf fee revenues were up 6.6 per cent at member facilities.

But competition remains fierce: the national average for rounds-per-18 holes – approximately 32,000 – is more than 20 per cent lower than it was prior to the start of the building boom in the late 1980s. Course closures also dramatically outweighed openings for another year.