Coming off its first full year with an increase in rounds played since 2004, the Myrtle Beach golf market has had a slight decrease in rounds played through the first half of the year compared to 2017.
Statistics compiled by the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association and Golf Tourism Solutions, a marketing and technology agency for the Grand Strand golf industry, show 2018 rounds are down about 2.5 percent through June.
As part of the decrease, rounds in the all-important spring golf season consisting of the months of March, April and May were down a mild 0.7 percent – a decrease of 4,350 rounds with more than 1.006 million rounds played in the three months.
The numbers are based on the T-Links reservation system, which documents rounds booked through nearly 80 Strand courses in Horry, Georgetown and Brunswick (N.C.) counties.
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Rounds increased 4.1 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, ending 13 consecutive years of decreases.
The 2018 numbers include a dismal January, when just 114,000 rounds were played for a decrease in the month of 32 percent compared to 2017. There was a stretch of eight consecutive days early in the month when the high temperature never rose above the low 30s and golf courses were either closed, empty or nearly empty.
“Our demand this year is stronger than last year even though the numbers don’t reflect that,” said Tracy Conner, executive director of the course owners association. “We’ve had a much more difficult year in terms of weather and the timing of our weather. We had a number of Saturday mornings where the weather was not optimal, and last year the weather was all in all in our favor.
“When we have a weekend where we have good weather, our rounds will out-perform last year’s pace.”
Golf Datatech and the National Golf Foundation report rounds being down nearly 9 percent across the country through April compared to 2017, and down 3.3 percent through April in the South Atlantic region that includes the Carolinas.
A positive for the market is an increase in five of the first six months in the average price per round compared to 2017.
Area courses have utilized research reports that are based on the T-Links rounds and revenue data, as well as technology and analytics from the RevTechPlus golf course revenue management consulting company, to try to maximize profits.
Courses have applied the data to adjust prices based on the time of day and demand.
“We’ve made a real effort that really got kicked off in January of this year to use data to better and more accurately price our golf, and it’s being reflected. We’re starting to see some of that effort pay off,” Conner said. “Course operators are taking advantage of pricing opportunities that in years past they may not have always taken advantage of.”
Rounds are likely to be down this summer with at least a dozen golf courses shut down for between a few weeks and a few months for the renovation of greens after the area was hit hard by winterkill that damaged or killed Bemudagrass. The January weather is thought to be a primary culprit of the winterkill, which impacted some courses in the spring and others in the summer, depending on whether or not they overseeded.
Some courses were only minimally affected and others have improved as Bermuda continues to grow and sprawl in the summer heat.
So the Myrtle Beach market will likely have a decrease at the end of the summer that it will try to make up for in the fall.
“We did just fine this spring and I remain optimistic for the remainder of the year,” Conner said.
Rounds Played 2017 vs. 2018
2017 Total Rounds |
|2018 Total Rounds |||Variance of Rounds |||Average daily rate % change|
|January||150,665||114,031||-32.13 %||+4.4 %|
|February||210,320||212,154||+0.86 %||+3.1 %|
|March||339,095||336,019||-0.92 %||-1.7 %|
|April||378,246||382,596||+1.14 %||+3.1 %|
|May||296,297||287,678||-3.00 %||+0.4 %|
|June||222,308||224,946||+1.17 %||+4.2 %|