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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Six-month drop in rounds played is not necessarily all bad news

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Golfers have not been lining up to play in record numbers in 2022, but data shows they might be if not for the weather.

The number of rounds of golf played are down through the first half of the year, but that is not necessarily a sign of bad news.

Thanks largely to Covid, a lot of people discovered the benefits of golf during the past three seasons. Golf courses everywhere bragged of record play, claims that were backed up by rounds played data provided each month by entities like Golf Datatech and the National Golf Foundation. 

Rounds increased by nearly 20 percent during Covid, reaching 518 million rounds played last year, a figure that matched an all-time high set in 2000. So, when rounds played are off, like they are in the first half of 2022, does it mean people are once again leaving the game, or are they impeded by factors - such as weather - that limit access to the game?

Rounds played in June were up slightly - 2.7 percent - compared with the same month a year ago, but overall were down by 5.7 percent through the first half of the year.

For once, it appears that we really can blame the weather. According to Jim Koppenhaver's Golf Datatech, the number of golf playable hours (a function of outside factors that directly influence the number of possible golf-playing hours) were down by 19 percent in the first quarter of 2022 and 9 percent in the second. So, it appears golfers are actually outperforming the weather, which is a sign that despite the hot, rainy patterns that have dominated weather east of the Mississippi River, inflation and high gas prices, golfers were still hitting the golf course whenever possible in the first half of the year.

"We’ve just passed the half-mile post for the ’22 calendar year," Koppenhaver wrote in his monthly email report. "And things aren’t looking that bad considering the obstacles we’ve had to navigate between the economy, non-cooperating weather and the still fluid work-from-home situation that has been beneficial to golf."

Despite the weather and other influences, rounds played were up in June in 32 states. The biggest winners were Alabama and North and South Dakota, where play was up 18 percent. Other double-digit increases were in Indiana and Michigan, both up 14 percent, and Kentucky and Tennessee (up 11 percent). The biggest losses were in Hawaii (down 10 percent).

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