As the rounds played positive surprises continue well into the Fall and the revenue figures close in on or surpass '20, the most frequent question I get today from the media and our clients now shifts to what we think will happen in '21. As Yogi Berra was famously quoted saying, "Predictions are hard, especially about the future." Back in April, I thought trying to project the upside/downside for this season would be thin on quantitative data support and historical patterns. In November I'm now slightly despondent that any projections on '21 will be basically on a wing and a prayer. Given however that few in the industry to date have dared to take that on and I still have clients wanting a professional opinion, I'm going to climb out on a shaky limb and hope it supports my weight.
In my opinion, '21's success, failure or lateral movement will be based on the following tenets which I'll flesh out, uncharacteristically, in opinion more than facts:
· The contributing factors and consumers behind the '20 V-shaped recovery and resurgence will be important in the '21 projection. I'll discuss that understanding how much of '20 was due to existing golfers playing more, lapsed golfers returning to the game or new golfers taking up the sport will influence whether we sustain this level of rounds and revenue, fall back to the pre-COVID trajectory or land somewhere in between
· As I've pointed out in various interviews and this publication previously, our fortune in '20 has been largely driven by the absence of preferred activities which previously competed for the discretionary time (particularly weekend) required for golf. The timing and breadth of the return of those activities will certainly shape the arc of rounds and revenue in '21, and likely into '22, at the current pace of controlling COVID
· Finally, those in the golf course operations sector control a part of their destiny based on whether they recognized, captured and cultivated relationships in '20 or just extended a hearty (socially-distanced) handshake when golfers arrived and (virtually) slapped 'em on the back as they left and said "Come back soon y'all!" on their way out the door. I'll try to go lightly on this but we (continue to) suck at tracking and marketing to our consumers based on information that could be reasonably collected through virtually all of today's Point-of-Sale (PoS) systems
Interestingly, at the intersection of the above Stuart and I are somewhat bullish on the 1st half of the '21 season and less aligned and/or confident on what the 2nd half of '21 will provide. Again however, between us we don't have even a half dozen numbers to quantitatively support our professional opinion on this topic so we'll remind you to remember that "Free advice is generally worth what you paid for it." Just for fun, throw in a polarized and unsettled presidential election for good measure (which is hopefully decided, one way or the other, by the time you read this) and you've got yourself a good 'ol fashioned crap shoot. Here's how I read the tea leaves...
I'm officially declaring November a "free-for-all" issue so every single one of you receiving this will be provided the complete issue at no cost. It's my shameless end-of-year plug for the 20K+ of you who aren't current subscribers or Pellucid Publications Members (PPM) to get on board and give yourself an early Christmas present. To make it even more interesting, we'll do a 14 months for the price of 12, if you subscribe in November (OtR or PPM) your subscription won't renew until Jan '22. See the links below which will take you to the "subscribe" page for either of the promotional offerings and click away. For those not taking me up on the offer, I'll just assume that you either don't care for my writing style or you don't want reality-based insights on the quantitative and qualitative industry opportunities and issues (I won't take either of those personally):