SMS Rounds Played Monitor Indicate a Third Straight Month of Dramatic Growth

New preliminary figures from the Sports Marketing Surveys Rounds Played Monitor indicate a third straight month of dramatic growth in the number of golf rounds being played in Great Britain.

Following jumps of 61% in June and just over 40% in July, there is still no sign of any regression to the mean. In fact, early indications are that the average number of rounds played per course in August rose by more than 60% compared to 2019.

The SMS panel, which includes both proprietary and private member clubs, has recorded strong growth across the country, thanks in part to the reopening of hotels and resorts, many of which stayed closed into July.

At the same time, as SMS research from earlier in the pandemic identified, it is likely that uncertainty surrounding international travel and a fear of having to quarantine on return has driven and will continue to drive increased domestic golf tourism. In total less than half of golfers believe it will be safe to travel abroad for a golf break before April 2021 compared to almost 60% who believe it will be safe to travel domestically by the end of 2020.

Richard Payne, who has led SMS’ golf operations since 2011, commented: “One of the many sectors of the golf industry impacted by Coronavirus has been tourism. Fear of the pandemic and uncertainty about quarantine conditions on return are a recipe for caution when it comes to booking new golf trips, particularly when the journey requires long distance travel. The flip side of that change is that domestic tourism in the UK can expect to see a boost in the immediate future. England, Scotland, Wales and the island of Ireland offer some of the finest golf courses and experiences in the world, and it’s great to see golfers enjoying the opportunity to explore. With the middle of September providing continued warm weather, we hope that golf clubs across the country can keep the momentum going into the Autumn.”

The preliminary August figures are based on a strong sample of over 100 courses. The full SMS panel includes c200 courses reporting monthly data. Full results for Q3 will be available at the end of October.

Sports Marketing Surveys has operated the Rounds Played Monitor for Great Britain for 20 years. Figures are provided by SMS’ panel of participating golf clubs, and carefully checked by SMS. Participating clubs represent a wide split of regions and types of courses. Results are aggregated and shown on a monthly basis, with regional splits and historic trends included. The reports are published quarterly.