The damaged wreaked by a wet winter and coronavirus on golf clubs has been laid bare in new figures.
Sports Marketing Surveys’ Golf Rounds Played report for the first quarter of 2020 in Great Britain showed a 31 per cent drop against the same period in 2019, culminating in a 42 per cent year on year decrease in rounds played in March.
“That the report paints a bleak picture is unsurprising after extreme weather in February was followed by Coronavirus and lockdown in March,” said SMS on their website.
“Q1 2019 was also a strong quarter against which to compare, having grown by 31 per cent against the equivalent months in 2018.”
The wet conditions persisted for months, with NCG speaking to a series of clubs about the downpours last Autumn before the heavens opened again in the early part of this year.
But the SMS team said their findings were understandable and should not seen as “indicative of a wider decline or cause for concern for the sport”.
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“In fact, the results follow the publication earlier this year of the SMS golf participation tracker for year end 2019, which showed the highest number of total players since 2015, after two consecutive years of growth,” they added.
That impression had been backed up, they said, by year end growth for 2019 of 0.4 per cent driven by Scotland and the South of England.
And although lockdown has kept players off courses for nearly two months, the reopening of courses in England a week ago has seen unprecedented demand for tee times – with providers struggling to keep up with the clamour – and clubs also reporting a surge in membership applications.
Similar trends are expected in Wales as clubs reopen following the easing of lockdown restrictions as they will be in Scotland when they are given the green light.
Said SMS: “The Q1 findings have been issued in the same week as golf courses across England reopen, and so we join with the industry in hoping and expecting that they represent an anomaly and that happier times lie in store.”
Are the figures just a blip? How quickly will clubs recover from the coronavirus lockdown? Have your say in the comments, or tweet me.
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