PGA Annual Operations Survey: Fabulous Resource – Unfortunately Vastly Underutilized – Let’s Change That 

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Greg Nathan, Chief Business Officer of the National Golf Foundation, once stated, that I was “Golf’s Answer to Moneyball” referring to the legendary Billy Beane, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and minority owner of the Oakland Athletics who uses sabermetrics to select their roster based on “numbers.”  

The ability of a golf course to adeptly manage their facility is predicated on comparing their performance to meaningful benchmarks.  The PGA Annual Operations Survey comprising 53 reports shown below provides that opportunity.

These report can be filtered by many criteria: Year, State, PGA Section, Major Market, Number of Holes and Tax Status. The data produced is shown by the number of responses, total number of responses, the bottom 25%, median, top 25%, top 10%, last year’s median and percent of change for each type of facility: private, daily fee/semi-private, municipal/military/university, resort, golf range, golf academy/school, indoor golf center, golf retail store or golf company.

But there is a problem. The utilization of PGA Performance Trak is dwindling as reflected as follows:

Year Total Respondents
2005 880
2006 1,535
2007 1,788
2008 1,892
2009 1,935
2010 1,652
2011 2,350
2012 1,919
2013 1,695
2014 958
2015 1,167
2016 1,111

Note: Survey Respondents: US 18 hole golf courses.

The percent of participation is less than 10% which is surprising in that PGA Professionals earn member service points for participating as cited here:

“Scorecard Deadline & MSR Credits:

PGA Professionals and individuals who have authorized access should complete the 2018 PGA Facility Operations Scorecard by submitting results for the 2017 calendar or fiscal year.
Prompt scorecard completion will allow us to report results back on a timely basis via the online interactive reporting tool on You have an opportunity to earn up to three (3) MSR credits by completing the scorecard with useable data and submitting no later than June 4, 2018.

New this year: earn one (1) MSR credit when you complete and submit the page one high-level view and an additional two (2) MSR credits when you submit additional useable detailed-level data.”

While the resulting statistics from the 1,111 18-hole respondents would produce an estimated 99% confidence factor with a 3.6% margin of error according to Raosoft, Inc., relevant benchmarks are far more meaningful at a local, state or sectional level by course type. Hence, the importance of high response rates to ensure meaningful insights are provided. Unfortunately, that is the problem. The response rates are so low that relevant information to provide meaningful comparison is lacking. Let’s change that to help all golf course operators become more astute managers of their facilities. Encourage your PGA Professional to submit the financial statements for your golf course to guide your facility and the industry to increased profits.

That is my opinion. What do you think? Comment below.

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