Golf

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Summer Golf Rounds Down: Could Zika Fears be at Fault?

7 Sep, 2016

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Could it have been the Zika affect? According to Golf Datatech, golf rounds played in the U.S. were down 0.6 percent in July compared to the same month one year ago.

The news, carried in a report in Sporting Goods Business, shows a mixed bag, with up-and-down trends in various areas. Regions seeing gains include West North Central (up 2.3 percent); Mountain (also ahead 2.3 percent); New England (1.6 percent up) and Mid Atlantic (up 0.2 percent.)

Declines, meanwhile, were seen in the following regions: East North Central, -2.7 percent; Pacific, -2.1 percent; South Central, -1.2 percent and South Atlantic, -1.1 percent.

To go out on a limb just a bit, those latter areas include those where Zika might be expected sooner rather than later, according to an article in TravelWeekly. And considering that July was the time many of the golf pros chose to make their announcements that they would not be joining other athletes in Rio for the Olympics out of fear of contracting the virus, it’s not too hard to make the leap.

But the statistics only show play, rather than reason, making it impossible to say for sure whether the specter of the virus is a factor.

The news came on the heels of DataTech’s announcement in May that play was actually experiencing an uptick.

Earlier in 2016, the National Golf Foundation reported, for the first time since 2012, the number of golf rounds played in the United States were up. Golf Datatech’s data showed the uptick was not a digression, as participation in 2016 continues to trend upward. Through three months, golf rounds played rose 5.5 percent, according to Golf Datatech.

“This number is incited by a strong March, as the month experienced a 13.2 percent boom,” noted GolfTech. “Amazingly, this is despite a rise in precipitation across the country. Though increased temperatures during this time span might’ve helped, historical data shows rain has a stronger effect on rounds played, and the shaky weather would seemingly forecast less-than-desired numbers for golf rounds. Breaking it down by region, a calm winter and spring have rounds played in the New England and Mid Atlantic areas exponentially up. Unfortunately, their input is slightly hampered by a downturn in the sport’s hotbeds of Florida and California.”

In July, however, public access play was down 0.4 percent and private course activity was down 1.1 percent. In the year-to-date period, rounds played were up 2 percent.

A total of 2,980 golf courses across the U.S. contributed data that went into the report.

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