Golf Weather Impact: September 2021 nationwide Golf Playable Hours flat compared to September 2020


By Jim Koppenhaver, President, Pellucid Corp
As seen in NGCOA Research Center's 'Latest Data and Reports' Dashboard 

September Golf Playable Hours (GPH) were unusually flat for one of our "shoulder season" months, registering +1% change vs. 1 year ago.  That kept the Year-to-Date Golf Playable Hours figure at -1% vs. one year ago.  Regional breadth remained negative for the year at 1:2 with 10 favorable regions vs. 19 unfavorables rounded out by 16 in the neutral zone.  Looking at weather impact performance by day-of-week for the year to date period, weekends are now basically weather-neutral while the weather decline is in weekdays led by Fridays and Wednesdays.  Our GPH year-end forecast continued to bend to reality making a significant correction for the year now to +1%.

Played Rounds for August as published by Golf Datatech also struggled against last year's strong results registering -7% (but which is still 13% above Aug '19). According to Datatech, the Public sector "lost less" (-7%) vs. Private (-9%), much of which is likely to Private's strength in '20 so they have a tougher comp to beat.  To the critical question of how much weather impacted our flat rounds result, recall that the previously-reported August GPH was -5%, so the slightly larger rounds decline yields a Utilization loss of 2 points pretty much following the July results.

In a rare feat for rounds projections, I was "calling" August -7.5% vs. '20 which was pretty dead on. My call for the months in the balance of the year is for continued and increasing erosion vs. the elevated '20 H2 results so we'll see if my prowess (luck) holds up.  We usually see more variance in Golf Playable Hours in the shoulder season months of September-November, but we'll take the neutral result while acknowledging that flat national still has considerable ups and downs (which you know because you have the supporting regional results which ranged from +30% (So. FL) to -15% (OH Valley Central or Columbus area).  Looking back to last month for Utilization, we saw the rounds decline along with the unfavorable weather so, despite COVID, declining GPH continues to exert gravitational pull on demand.  The good news is that, for Year to Date Utilization across the 61 tracked markets, we're still showing very strong positive breadth with 44 markets up against only 3 markets down (Minneapolis, Sarasota and the state of NE) or a 14:1 positive breadth ratio.  Due to the diligence of our Golf Market Research Center Charter Members, we've already seen the preview of the September results for rounds and revenue and the "preview" is that it's stronger than I had anticipated against last year's elevated base (and similar to the GPH results so I can pretty confidently predict flat Utilization for September).

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Jim Koppenhaver is the founder and President of Pellucid Corp., a leading information and insights provider to the golf industry.  Pellucid provides a range of services for golf course owner/operators ranging from local market analysis to daily weather impact at facility level.  More information on Pellucid's services can be found here and Jim can be reached at
** The views and opinions featured in Golf Business WEEKLY are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the NGCOA.**