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August 3, 2020

July Outside the Ropes, Covid Bounce in June, What Next?

After much speculation regarding whether and how much of rounds played “bounce” we might see as states relaxed recreational restrictions in the latter portion of Q2, the June Golf Datatech (GDT) figures quantified and confirmed the anecdotal information previously published that golf is benefitting. As best we can tell from our (once again painful, due to having to cobble together multiple sources and do some moderate-level math) analysis of the figures, the size and shape of it has some nuance that we’ll explore and explain in this issue. The good news is that the continued lifting of restriction on golf and being “blessed” as a COVID-OK recreational activity, along with good compliance with the Back2Golf program, is reflected in the May-June figures and, at least on the rounds front, we’ve closed a significant amount of the Jan-Apr gap vs. Year Ago (YA).

Emerging from the available figures, and torturing them somewhat to create projections for what’s not provided in the current level of detail, are a couple of interesting patterns and observations:

  •  Looking at the Top 10 States (by annual rounds contribution) and the various restrictions placed upon them in Q2 due to COVID is a good place to start. These 10 states comprise 51% of rounds nationally and, as they go, so goes the nation
  • Looking at the Mar-Jun rounds “comps” shows that some have bounced back quicker and more fully than others. At the national level, there’s also an interesting dichotomy that Private rounds have led the recovery with Public rounds just catching up in June according to the GDT breakouts at that level. In the analysis, we’ll make projections of that trend down to the Top 10 states in an attempt to quantify where Public golf rounds recovery stands for each state
  • We’ll revisit the NGF “glide path” that they outlined for a full rounds recover (to YA) by the end of the year and determine where we are. While we won’t break down the Public vs. Private “paths-to-flat”, you’ll see from the analysis that Public rounds recovery has a slightly steeper path based on lagging (Apr-May) recovery vs. the Private sector

At the end of the “puts and calls”, I’m feeling unusually optimistic for a better vs. worse case scenario for golf for the balance of this year relative to YA benchmarks. On the positive side, as long as other forms of recreation are restricted and golf can continue to “play clean”, we’re one of the only games in town for fun and exercise and we’ll be less impacted/constrained by spectator sports diversions (particularly Fall college and pro football most likely) as well. On the negative side, if there continues to be a resurgence of infections etc. and it reaches the state intervention/rollback level, we’ll possibly go back in the penalty box in some number of states/markets for some portion of the balance of the year. Depending on when that may occur (hopefully not the critical month of August), that could either be damaging or a glancing blow while also recognizing that Q4 is not unimportant for the seasonal/snowbird markets.