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Report: Rounds played in U.S. rose sharply in 2012

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As the end of the 2012 golf season draws near, one major trend is emerging: People are playing more golf.

According to a report from the National Golf Foundation, rounds played in the U.S. are up 7.4% through September against the same time period in 2011, with every state experiencing a gain versus last year's totals. Should fourth-quarter data remain on par with last year, we could see what the report describes as 'the largest single-year jump since the turn of the century,' a national gain of over 30 million rounds played.

The NGF cites improved weather as a root cause for the jump, noting an eight percent increase in playable days in 2012, as well as steady increases in consumer spending and confidence.

While the data is encouraging for the golf industry as a whole, it will only go to assuage part of the decline created across the previous decade. In the last 10 years, rounds played have dipped approximately 11%, according to the report, a decrease that will only be partially recovered by the gains seen in 2012.

The report also notes that golf course closures are still on pace with the numbers seen in 2011, while new course openings remain 'at historic lows.'