Golf Datatech just released its first Rounds Played report for a month where COVID-19 affected golf course openings.

While still positive, oh what could have been.

The end of March 2020 went like a soap opera for Ohio golf course owners and operators. They first saw the Governor issue a lock-down order on March 21 that was unclear for golf course businesses. The following day, the Governor’s office exempted golf from the order, citing it as an “outdoor activity” at “open outdoor recreation areas” but only operating with many conditions. Two days later, attorneys from the Ohio Department of Health contradicted that order, telling local health departments in a conference call that golf was not exempt. Then two days after that, the Governor’s office slapped down the ODH attorneys, over-ruling their rogue guidance.

With all of that drama going on, golf courses didn’t know if, when or how they could open. Some opened, many did not. The uncertainty greatly affected business for the last 11 days of March.

Because of all of the confusion, the numbers collected by Golf Datatech for March 2020 for individual markets were considered by the company as “statistically unstable”. Thus, numbers specific to all metro regions, including the Greater Cleveland metro, were not put forth in the March report.

But rounds played for the state of Ohio were.

Rounds played in Ohio were up 29.8% for March 2020 over March 2019 numbers.

Year-to-date, Ohio is up 31.3% over 2019 rounds played.

Ohio is in the East North Central quadrant, which includes Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Even with the same uncertainty across those states, golf was up 11.1% vs 2019 in that five state region.

But the in-season southern states of the USA were crushed — especially the Pacific quadrant — leading to an overall drop of -8.5% for March vs 2019 across the country.

It will be interesting to see the April report…

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