For the second consecutive year, the Grand Strand golf market enjoyed an increase in the total number of rounds played in the critical spring months of March, April and May, though the increase was less than in 2015.
According to statistics provided by marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday based on rounds booked on the Grand Strand Tee Time Network, which includes 78 reporting courses, rounds played in the three months combined were up 0.4 percent compared to 2015. They were up 2.1 percent last year compared to 2014.
“The challenge for us in an industry that remains in a static or slow declining environment, our biggest challenge is maintaining market share or growing market share,” said Golf Holiday president Bill Golden. “We saw that in the spring.”
In the individual months, March rounds were down 0.4 percent, April was up 5.9 percent and May was down 5.6 percent.
The total number of reported rounds at the 78 courses for the three spring months was 1,002,763 this year compared to 999,221 last year.
The 2015 and ’16 figures compare total rounds rather than paid rounds, as Golf Holiday changed the way it collects the data. So the comparison now includes walk-in, package, member, replay and complimentary rounds.
In terms of package and walk-in rounds, spring rounds dropped 3 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, and 1.7 percent in 2014 compared to 2013. The Strand had enjoyed three consecutive spring seasons of increased year over year paid rounds, consisting of a 5.5 percent increase in 2010, 8.7 percent spike in 2011 and 0.7 percent increase in 2012.
The spring season is the lifeblood of the area golf industry, featuring the most rounds and peak prices.
There are factors each year that move more rounds from month to month in the spring. For instance, May was negatively impacted this year compared to 2015 because there were four weekends in the month compared to five in 2015.
March was hurt and April was helped this year by the fact that Easter fell in March last year and April this year.
Weather always plays a role as well, and after a rough January the spring weather was more consistent this year compared to the past three years. “Our numbers are going to be heavily weather dependent,” Golden said.
March weather has been particularly cold or wet in the three previous years.
“The past three Marches have been very, very rough from the weather perspective,” Golden said. “So people taking a vacation during that time period may make a decision to either change the time of year or go somewhere else if that’s the only time of year they could take vacation.
“… That’s not unlike situations we’ve had in the past in the fall when storms would come up. It takes a while to rebuild that business in a month when you’ve had difficult weather challenges. This March was better and more consistent and I think we need to build upon that headed to next year, and begin to resell March. March used to happen and was one of our most popular months of the year for golf in the area. We’ve had some challenges and we need to rebuild that business.”
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