There’s reason to be optimistic as we thankfully say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021.
I don’t need to tell anyone what a crazy year we had in 2020. COVID-19 introduced the world to now-common terms such as “asymptomatic” and “social distancing,” and we all did our best to “flatten the curve.”
From March 17 to June 2, C+RB dedicated quite a bit of time and space to our daily Coronavirus Club Update. These articles on our website and in our e-newsletter featured a collection of what various clubs and resorts were doing in the wake of the global pandemic. While the news was sometimes bleak, at least initially, the tone quickly took a turn for the better, as we saw many club professionals get creative as their fairways were reopened and rounds played began to increase significantly.
The use of pool noodles in cups to make it easier for golfers to safely retrieve their golf ball was both ingenious and cost-effective, and then the entrepreneurial spirit took over and we saw inventions that lifted balls out of the cups via the use of a lever and a putter.
One popular state-by-state mandate restricted the use of double occupancy in golf carts, which put a supply-and-demand strain on clubs. Cart barns were often empty as golfers were in the pro shop requesting a ride. That led to a pair of byproducts, again born from the entrepreneurial spirit: plastic cart dividers, which allowed two golfers to share a cart without sharing germs, and a run on push carts. Suppliers of push carts soon found themselves out of stock, and price gougers began to make news for trying to milk the “needy.”
On the culinary side, in-club dining took a major hit, and tournaments and banquets were unfortunately cancelled in droves. If necessity is the mother of invention, though, then COVID has been the driver of takeout. Chefs and Food and Beverage Directors quickly revamped their menus and shifted to a to-go format, to keep members nourished while generating much-needed revenue. Clubs also got creative with how to expand and extend their outdoor dining space and offerings (see “Poised for the Comeback” on pg. 24 of this issue), to provide more safe and welcomed F+B options.
C+RB also introduced a new video series—”The Road Back”—in 2020. The weekly episodes (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/category/the-road-back/) focus on how clubs have responded to the coronavirus pandemic and what they are doing to return to “normal” operations. It’s been a real pleasure to share so many of these success stories with our audience in a quick-view, easy-to-consume format.
On a personal note, I experienced two career highlights in 2020. I was fortunate to interview World Golf Hall of Fame member Gary Player via Zoom, and appeared on the Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” live from the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. I was equally excited for both, but decidedly more nervous for my national TV debut. (I epitomize the “face for radio and voice for print.”)
There’s reason to be optimistic as we thankfully say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021. If the industry can retain a nice percentage of new or regenerated golfers going forward, the doom-and-gloom forecasts we’ve all seen may be a distant memory. Clubs that weathered this storm should find themselves in position to enjoy a bounce-back season, and golfers who had become accustomed to loading their bags into their cars immediately following a round may be more inclined to socialize again over a beverage in the clubhouse, as well as outside of it.