Rounds played way up in 2012

Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Much more golf was played in the northeastern quadrant of the United States this year.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Saturday, November 17, 2012 | 12:26 a.m.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, the entire golf industry should be giving thanks for some of the best news of the year – rounds play in 2012 are way up over last year.

"In fact, if fourth quarter rounds are flat with the same period in 2011, we would end the year with the largest single-year jump since the turn of the century -- a national gain of more than 30 million rounds," says the National Golf Foundation in its State of the Industry Update.

Nationwide, rounds are up 7.4 percent through September, and nearly every state experienced a gain over 2011. The fourth quarter accounts for only 16 percent of the annual rounds, the NGF says, so the 2012 gain should come in just above 6 percent.  Rounds played have declined about 11 percent over the past decade, the NGF adds, so 2012 will recover about half of that dip.

What’s behind the big improvement? It’s a dramatic increase in rounds played across the northeastern quarter of the United States from the Dakotas down to Kansas and over to Maryland and Vermont. Year-over-year growth in that quadrant averaged 12 percent, according to the Golf Datatech National Rounds Played Report. That region is so important because 44 percent of all U.S. golf courses and 47 percent of America’s public golf courses are located there.

Why was there so much improvement up north? One big reason is that the weather was much better this year compared to last. In fact, the PGA’s PerformanceTrak reports a strong 8 percent increase in playable days nationwide. Another big reason: Consumer confidence and spending also have been consistently edging upward.