(Photo of North Kingstown (R.I.) Municipal GC by Michael Derr, South County Life)
Public courses in the Northeast states have been reporting record numbers for golf rounds, brought on in part by an influx of new golfers, as well as “an overspill of players who can’t get tee times at other places,” one head pro reports. “I think this is going to end up being a good thing for golf, getting more people back to the game,” said a pro at a Rhode Island municipal.
Golfers have been flooding the links in big numbers at courses in the Meriden, Conn., area, the Record-Journal of Meriden reported. June, in fact, was a record month in the long history of Hunter Golf Club, which was founded in 1929 as the Meriden Municipal Golf Course.
Bob Tiedemann, Hunter GC’s head golf professional, told the Record-Journal that his course welcomed more than 200 golfers per day in June. The numbers declined a little as temperatures have gone up in July, Tiedemann said, but attendance still remains strong.
Despite being busy, the Record-Journal reported, Hunter GC has had a unique feel this summer, as Youth clinics, leagues and tournaments have been nearly nonexistent.
“It’s been different, obviously,” Tiedemann said. “We haven’t had any tournaments. I have a couple scheduled for August. The state has relaxed a few rules. We’ve had some men’s and ladies’ clubs. We’ve had nothing with a shotgun start.”
Hunter GC has also seen an influx of new golfers, the Record-Journal reported.
“People are golfing. There’s nothing else to do,” Tiedemann said. “There aren’t many other sports. People aren’t going away as much. They are golfing.”
The uptick has resulted in record numbers for the course, despite closing for four weeks that spanned parts of March and April, the Record-Journal reported. Hunter also had a 10-day period when only walkers were allowed.
As always, weekends have been busier for golf rounds at Hunter GC, the Record-Journal reported. But in a typical year, where tee times slow up after 1 p.m., Hunter has been booked through 5 p.m.
Hunter GC is still planning to hold its yearly centerpiece, the Meriden Open, on August 15 and 16, the Record-Journal reported, as well as the Senior City Championships on August 6 and 7.
Business has also been steady at Lyman Orchards In Middlefield, Conn., General Manager Jason Beffert told the Record-Journal.
“We’ve lost all of our tournaments and outings, but we’ve seen a lot more players,” Beffert said. “Maybe it’s because people are working from home and taking advantage of nice days, but it’s almost like every day is a weekend here. We’ve been steady with golfers, as opposed to different events.”
The Lyman Orchards course only had to close for a day or two in mid-March, the Record-Journal reported, and since then, according to Beffert, business has been up and there have been enough carts for everyone.
The Tradition Golf Club at Wallingford (Conn.) has been averaging more than 200 golfers per day, the Record-Journal reported.
“It’s been very busy,” said the public course’s head pro, Dave Giacondino. “We’re getting regular players, but we are also getting an overspill of players who can’t get tee times at other places, because there’s such a surge of people playing golf because it’s one of the few things you can do.”
The club was particularly busy on the days leading up to and following July 4th weekend, Giacondino reported, and nice weather was also a big factor for the uptick in play.
Tee times are still scheduled every 10 minutes at The Tradition, and dividers have been placed in some of the carts, the Record-Journal reported.
The Tradition has run smaller tournaments and leagues, but nothing with more than 40 players, the Record-Journal reported. Giacondino is hoping to run bigger tournaments in the fall.
In Rhode Island, where coronavirus-related restrictions has limited crowds at beaches and campgrounds that are usually packed with summertime activity, business is as strong as it would be without a pandemic at some local golf courses, such as the North Kingstown (R.I.) Municipal Golf Course, South County Life magazine reported. And those courses are also seeing beginners and long-lost players return to the game.
“It’s always a good time [to pick up golf],” John Rainone, North Kingstown’s Head Golf Professional, told South County Life. “Now is as good a time as any. I think this is going to end up being a good thing for golf, getting more people back to the game. People’s lives will hopefully be less hurried and less crunched for time than they were in the past, so they can come out and enjoy a few hours in the outdoors.”
Before the pandemic began, Rainone noted, the warmer winter allowed people to golf both later and earlier in the year than usual. “It was [so] warm, we were open pretty much throughout the winter,” he said.
Restrictions that were imposed in the first phase of Rhode Island’s pandemic response did have an adverse effect on business, Rainone said. “We went from a full operation with the driving range open, putting green open, golf carts and eight-minute tee time intervals to no golf carts, no driving range, no putting green, no pro shop and only 15 minute tee-time intervals, so only four groups per hour,” he told South County Life. “So that put a big crimp in our business for the month of April and the first week of May.”
Once Phase II was initiated, however, the tee-time restrictions were lessened, South County Life reported. “We run 10-minute tee-time intervals now, which I think we’re going to stay with,” Rainone said. “We’re at two-people, full-rider golf carts for the time being, but the driving range is open, the putting green is open, the restaurant is open—so business has actually been very, very good since we got past the very tight restrictions.“
The North Kingstown course, situated just off the former Davisville military base at Quonset Point, has been part of the community for over 70 years, South County Life reported, offering views of the Quonset State Airport and Rhode Island Air National Guard station, Wickford Harbor and Narragansett Bay.
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