As the 2012 season winds down across much of the country, rest assured: The Great (Golfing) Recovery is well under way.
Make that very well: According to the National Golf Foundation, even if play stays flat over the last quarter of the year, 2012 will have seen the "largest single year jump since the turn of the century." In raw numbers, play is up more than 30 million rounds over last year.
Rounds in the country are up 7.4% through September, and nearly every state experienced a gain versus 2011. The remaining fourth quarter accounts for only 16% of the annual rounds, so barring any major change in the pattern, the year-end gain will be just above 6%. Since rounds have declined approximately 11% during the past 10 years, 2012 alone will recover approximately half of that dip.
The news isn't all positive. New course openings remain "at historic lows," and closures continue at the same rate as 2011. That said, the Foundation says that more than 300 courses are currently under construction abroad. See you in China. For more info, follow the link to the read the NGF's entire (exhaustive) State of the Industry report.