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coronavirus

Rounds played in Britain take huge hit as winter and lockdown bite

An influential report has revealed the impact of a wet winter and the first couple of weeks of the coronavirus lockdown
 

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”.

“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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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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