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Golf courses expecting another banner season

  • MELISSA CURREN—Monitor staff

  • Steve Chapman practices his putting on the practice greeen before heading out at Pembroke Pines Country Club in Pembroke on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. MELISSA CURREN—Monitor staff

  • Steve Chapman practices his putting before heading out at Pembroke Pines Country Club in Pembroke on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. MELISSA CURREN—Monitor staff

  • Steve Chapman practices his chip shots before heading out at Pembroke Pines Country Club in Pembroke on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. MELISSA CURREN—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/30/2021 2:48:47 PM

Last year at this time, uncertainty dominated the golf industry. Would it be safe to play during a pandemic? Could courses financially survive a lost season?

This spring, it’s the opposite.

“We’re very optimistic this year,” said Bob White, owner of Duston Country Club in Hopkinton. “Last year we actually thought we were going to be in a position where we were going to lose a lot of money, and it went the other way, and I think almost every golf course has experienced the same thing that we did.”

The Concord Country Club certainly experienced it, despite time lost at the beginning of the season while medical experts and government officials figured out the guidelines necessary to make public activities like golf safe during a pandemic.

“Last year we lost all of April and 10 days in May, however we still had a year where our rounds exceeded pretty much any other season that I had been here for the past 23 years, and we had 200 days of golf since there was very little rain to speak of,” Concord Country Club head pro Rich Thibeault said. “Typically coming into a season if you think you’re going to get 200 days of golf in New Hampshire, it’s a win-win for everybody involved – clubs and the membership. So, it certainly turned out to be a great season last year and I’m sure the demand is going to be just as high this year.”

The demand didn’t even wane over the winter at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord.

“We’ve seen a lot of excitement already, and actually even through our simulator season, which was indoors,” Beaver Meadow head pro Phil Davis said. “There’s a lot of excitement around golf right now and we saw it in the bump in rounds played last year, and we think it’s going to continue on this year. There’s a lot of built up energy for golf, that’s for sure.”

A relatively mild winter and early spring means local courses can be ready for golfers on the early side.

“Everything is in really good shape,” Davis said. “Obviously it’s still pretty early in the growing season, but it looks like we came through and wintered well.”

Beaver Meadow is scheduled to open on Thursday, White is expecting Duston to be ready by April 9, and Thibeault was hopeful Concord CC could be open by next week, as well. There are some local courses already open for business, like Pembroke Pines Country Club and Loudon Country Club.

All these courses will open under the same restrictions and guidelines that they closed with last year. Pro shops and course restaurants are open, but they must follow the state’s retail and food services guidelines. Members of the same household can share carts without face coverings, but members from different households should wear masks if sharing a cart. Tee times should be scheduled in advance, and given how crowded courses expect to be, it would be wise not to show up behind schedule.

“We had several groups show up late for tee times last year and we were so busy that we weren’t able to get them on,” White said.

For the most part, however, golfers were more than willing, and prepared, to follow the safety guidelines.

“Golfers have to self police with the rules of the sport, and I felt like people did a good job all last year with the health and safety rules, especially around here at Beaver Meadow, it was great,” Davis said. “People were really respectful and understood the situation that we were dealing with.”

People were also very grateful to be golfing, and they were willing to express it.

“More than once someone thanked us last year, and that was unusual,” Thibeault said. “They thanked us for being here and thanked us for providing a safe haven for people to be during the pandemic.”

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