With apologies to the Bee Gees, September was a sideways close to a very favorable season in the northern climes as Golf Playable Hours (GPH) registered flat vs. the same period last year at the national level. That created a slight erosion in the national Year-to-Date (YtD) GPH favorability to +10% vs. the comparable year ago period. The regional breadth for the YtD period continues to be widely favorable at 18:1 with 35 regions having favorable weather against 2 regions with unfavorable weather (the remaining 8 in the neutral zone of +/- 2%). Looking at YtD weather impact performance by day-of-week, strong weekend weather in September brought more balance in favorability between weekdays and weekends. For the full-year, we continue to see the GPH forecast well above 2011 suggesting that owner/operators will not see a significant "giveback" in weather favorability over the balance of the year (meaning they'll get to take most of the current year's surplus "to the bank"). The values for the above two metrics as well as market-level Utilization for the preceding month are available to Pellucid Publications Members via the Client section at the Pellucid website (go to www.pellucidcorp.com
for information or to subscribe).
Looking back on August rounds played (as reported by Golf Datatech/NGF) to calculate the facility % Utilization Rate (UR), rounds demand (+1%) fell slightly short of the slightly more favorable weather (+4%) resulting in a UR decline for the month to 50% which is 2 points lower than the 2011 year-end value. For the YtD period, the UR still lags year ago at 50% comprised of a healthy increase in rounds demand (+9%) slightly trailing even better weather (+12%). At the market level for the YtD period, the positive UR breadth did a complete switch to a 1:2 ratio of favorable/unfavorable markets (comprised of 10 markets up vs. 21 down and 30 in the neutral zone) as markets previously just barely in positive territory had unfavorable September weather which dragged them back to the minus column.
Jim Koppenhaver comments, "It will be interesting to see if Stuart Lindsay's "Golfers are more like bears than squirrels" theory will hold up when the September rounds results are tallied. If Stuart's right, we'll see a rounds decline in September as demand won't keep up with the neutral weather recorded during the month. His theory is that the fall season brings numerous, stronger pulls for the golfer's discretionary time in the form of youth sports, football (both college and NFL) as well as season fatigue for all but the Commiteds (40+ rds/yr) golfing group. That said, even the neutral performance of weather for the month is a nice cap to a very favorable core season for the industry that has helped shore up the revenue and profit picture for a number of our client facilities. With the exception of the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii, 2012 weather has been a godsend for nearly every region of the country and a much-needed offsetting factor for the continued decline we're seeing in the golfer base. Our forecast for the balance of the year aligns with the general early winter forecast being produced by the National Weather Service which suggests that large portions of the north will most likely experience another relatively warm and less snowy 4th quarter. The important thing is that, for most limited-season facilities, they've now been able to lock in their gains, they don't have to hold their reserve any longer and can start either applying their dividend to late-season marketing efforts or defer it to the 2013 season plans and budget."
On the Golf Fee Revenue (GFR) side via the August PGA PerformanceTrak numbers, they're reporting a 2% increase for the month (slightly above the 1% rounds increase which means rate-per-round was up slightly vs. YA). For the YtD period, GFR registered a +9% increase (down slightly from +11% as of last month but even with the 9% rounds increase meaning rate-per-round is flat vs. YA). Inferring Revenue per Available Round (RevpAR, or the revenue efficiency of our "factories") by comparing the YtD GFR gain (+9%) against the GPH gain (+12%), it suggests that while we're having a welcome year in the revenue "black," we continue to lag last year on RevpAR so there's still work to be done.
A broader and more detailed scorecard of the monthly key industry metrics can be found in Pellucid's free digital magazine, The Pellucid Perspective. To register to get the current and future editions, go to http://www.pellucidcorp.com/news/elist
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Intelligent, curious and courageous industry stakeholders wanting the detailed metrics and monthly updates on weather impact at the national, regional and market level as well as utilization and the full year forecast numbers can subscribe to the Pellucid Publications Membership (Outside the Ropes monthly newsletter, 2011 State of the Industry, Monthly Weather Impact and Top 25 Golf Markets reports) for $495 annually. For individual facility owner/operators who need facility-level history, current year results by month and day-of-week and full year forecast data, Pellucid/Edgehill's self-serve, web-delivered, real-time weather impact service product, Cognilogic, is your answer. It's available for $240 for the year-end report and 12 month tracking or $120 for a single year-end report. For more information, contact Stuart Lindsay of Edgehill Golf Advisors (firstname.lastname@example.org
). You can now order either of the above information services via Pellucid's online store at http://www.pellucidcorp.com/purchase-reports/online-store