2020 Golf Consumer Franchise: The Results Are In: And They’re Crazy Good!
One of the perversions of analysts is that we’re always excited to see new information and figure out the underlying “story”. We had heightened anticipation this year waiting for golf consumer survey results as Stuart and I felt, based on the ’20 rounds bonanza as well as what we were seeing in our clients’ customer analyses, that we would see a 7-figure “up” in the golfer count at the national level. Well, the results are in and they didn’t disappoint; they’re within the range of our back-of-the-envelope estimates that I floated during a couple of Q1 podcasts but the shape and changes brought a few surprises. This somewhat fulfills the prophecy that a good analysis is one that both confirms some expectations but also challenges a few other assumptions.
The summary statement is that we saw our first year-to-year gain in the golfer base since ’02 and the number of participants not only increased but rebounded to the ’15 golfer level (defined as 1+ rounds in past calendar year, doesn’t count range, digital or golfertainment exclusives). In this issue I’ll outline the ’20 size and shape (and change vs. ’19) of the Golfers base and what our “reversal of fortune” looks like by the numbers:
- Based on reader/client feedback from last year, I’m going to modify the nomenclature for distinguishing between the diversified ways that consumers are engaging with the sport of golf: Golfers, Players and Participants. I’ll define each of these groups and then focus our attention on the Golfer group and we’ll leave the Players and Participants to “NGF accounting”
- Given the unique nature of ’20 as it relates to golfers and consumer-reported rounds, I’m going to open with an uncharacteristic look at the single-year figures (up “net” 7-figures, wow!) to highlight a few things they suggest about COVID’s impact in creating golfers and their frequency impact on rounds played vs. for both new and existing golfers. We’ll adopt a language of Rookie (new to the game), Returning (played again after on-off participation) and Recurring (played in ’19 and ’20) Golfers
- I’ll then run through our legacy analysis approach (the Pellucid faithful know that we use multi-year “smoothing” to report our annual consumer franchise results) because, as analysts, we’re compelled to use consistent methods to assess trends over time on an apples-to-apples basis. What it will show is that we (still, up “net” nearly 7-figures) saw increases in Golfers, Participation, Frequency and Play Rates (all birdies!)
- I’ll switch lenses to then look at the “shape” of the ’20 consumer base and how it changed relative to involvement levels (Committeds, Involveds, Casuals, Singles) lifestages (Jrs, Early Career, Mid-Career, Late-Career & Seniors) and income ranges ($0-$34K, $35-$74K, $75K+). The headline is that the consumer base and consumer-reported rounds surge was led by Committed, Late-Career/Seniors and $75K+ households but I’m sure you’re going to want more detail than that…
- Involvement levels – The fractional loss was contained to the Involveds group (10-39 rds/yr) and, encouragingly, the Committeds (40+ rds/yr) gained marginally after three consecutive years of decline
- I’ll close by going out on a limb and presenting some analyses which attempt to predict what the size and metrics of the ’21 consumer base might be (disclaimer: past performance is no guarantee of future results, ha, ha)
For crystal clarity, Pellucid’s figures and analyses are also a “latent demand-free zone”; we’ll leave all the “hope and change” metrics to our friends at the NGF and associated industry echo chambers. For our subscribers, read on to get the supporting facts and insights. For our Pellucid Publications Members, we’ve already updated the SoI consumer franchise presentation slides and distributed those to you (note to everyone else, our Publications Members always get Pellucid news first, another reason to “join the club”). For everyone else, you can get the rest of the story one of three ways:
- Most comprehensive coverage & detail – Subscribe to the Pellucid Publications Membership for $495/yr. Annual subscribers get access to the following:
- Outside the Ropes monthly digital newsletter
- Annual State of the Industry report portfolio (PowerPoint presentation, PDF commentary report, access to Jim/Stuart video of presentation)
- Geographic Weather Impact Tracking (US, 45 regions, 61 markets) or Cognilogic for Golf Playable Hours/Capacity Rounds for individual facilities
- Top 25 US Golf Markets Ranking Scorecard (25+ dimensions, scoring and ranking for largest 25 markets) or Golf Local Market Analysis data workbook for up to 3 draw areas for individual facilities
- National Consumer Franchise Health Scorecard (expanded data and tables underlying this issue’s summary figures)
- Subscribe to OtR, 12 monthly issues for $130/yr with a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied at any time during your subscription. Subscribers also get access to the historical archive of past issues (last two years) via the members-only section of the Pellucid website.
- Golf Market Research Center pilot participants – Hopefully if you’re an owner/operator you know that we’re in a pilot period for our newest facility performance/market benchmarking web-based service, the GMRC. Facilities who sign up and test-drive the GMRC (put in your monthly Rounds and Golf Revenue) between now and 5/31 will get this issue included/for free. Email me to register and get this two-fer!