November Outside the Ropes: Where Have All the Rounds Gone?
Long Time Passing
Baby Boomers and Silent Gen’ers may recognize the allusion to the iconic song by Pete Seeger, “Where Have all the Flowers Gone? (also performed routinely by the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary and Joan Baez among others). While this isn’t a protest piece per se, as we approach the end of another year with national rounds likely to be down 4%+, it isn’t an uninteresting question for the industry at large.
In this issue we’ll approach that question from 3 perspectives starting with a look back at the thinking behind the “grand bargain” promise of Golf 20/20 back in 2000; that we could imagine our way to nearly double the 518M rounds benchmark of that year:
• 1B rounds by 2020? At the end of ’18, we’re likely going to be 569M rounds short of the goal. That’s a lot of rounds to make up in the remaining two years; the new leadership at World Golf Foundation and their allied industry association partners might want to put more rigor into the 2.0 version which I’m calling Golf 20/40
• Some of the US Top 25 Golf Markets are having success in generating rounds increases in ’18; which 1 is growing despite unfavorable weather, which 5 are outpacing neutral weather and which 1 is outpacing favorable weather?
• Looking at longer-term trends (5-year Compound Annual Change Rate or CACR), we also see 4 markets which have grown rounds at an annual rate of 1%+ which may be instructional if we’re looking to increase demand. We’ll also highlight the Top 25 Golf Markets “demand dogs”, the 4 markets which are posting annual declines of 3% or greater over the current 5-yr period (using the October Year-to-Date (YtD) figures as a proxy for the full year)
Pellucid critics who call us the industry pessimists will be sorely disappointed this month as we quantify and look for clues regarding what markets are seeing success against the 2nd- biggest industry challenge, reversing demand declines (biggest challenge is figuring out how to stabilize the participant base which is declining at an annual rate 3x the demand decline). Let’s start however with how we’re going to likely be 569M national annual rounds short of the Golf 20/20 goal when we were only 482M short at the outset of “the vision.”
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