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Cochrane golf courses experiencing high early-season traffic

“I think everybody spent too much time in the wintertime not going anywhere and we’ve had a very good reaction since we opened on April 8. We’ve already hit two or three days that, in the 43 I’ve been in the golf business I haven’t quite seen that many people playing in mid-April."
Golf
Cochrane’s golf courses are seeing unusually high early-season traffic this year, continuing a trend from last year as people looked for COVID-friendly activities to take part in. File photo

COCHRANE— Cochrane’s golf courses are open once again and golfers are clamouring to get tee times.

Last year, many golf courses saw record-breaking years as people searched for safe, COVID-friendly, outdoor activities to take part in.

This year is looking to be very similar.

“We sense that it’s going to be very similar to last year, if not a bit more on the golfing side,” said Cochrane Golf Club operations manager Brad Walz. “I think everybody spent too much time in the wintertime not going anywhere and we’ve had a very good reaction since we opened on April 8. We’ve already hit two or three days that, in the 43 I’ve been in the golf business I haven’t quite seen that many people playing in mid-April."

The unusual volume of golfers is indicative of the busy season that courses are in for, Walz said.

Even though the days are shorter, and temperatures cool off in the evening, Walz said, he is seeing 225 golfers per day come through the course.

Last year, the Cochrane Golf Club’s high-water mark was 289 golfers in a single day, and Walz said he expects to hit 300 this year.

“It kind of sets the bar, anything over 200 people,” he said. “I can see our numbers getting to the high 200s. We might even crack the 300 this year, which is basically full-capacity.”

Even with the high volume of golfers, they are still only letting one party tee off every 10 minutes, which gives parties plenty of space between them.

“We’ve got 100 acres out here, so over a given two hours, we’re only spreading out 48 people over 100 acres, so there’s lots of space out there,” Walz said. “Golf is very friendly as far as maintaining COVID protocols. It’s very safe.”

The Cochrane Golf Club is a blended business, meaning it is open to both members and non-members, but for the first time in his tenure at the club, memberships have sold out, Walz said.

“I haven’t seen that one ever. I was here from ’05 to 2010, through some very good economic times. It’s just unprecedented.”

The Links at GlenEagles is having a similar response from the public this season.

“The demand’s been incredible. People are just looking for things to do in a safe way, things to do outside, and golf kind of checks all the boxes,” said Slade King, general manager of the Links of GlenEagles.

Even with the restricted daylight hours and frost delays, King said, their tee times have been booked solid since the course’s opening.

“We definitely have a lot of demand this spring and I think we’re going to see that at least until the middle of summer, at least until vaccines come out and people can travel, we might see a dip later on this year,” King said. “For now, golf is in high demand. We kind of have this resurgence that has carried on from last year into this year.”

Last season, King said, GlenEagles saw not only an increase in traffic but a real shift in the demographics who attended the course. Many more young people are picking up a club and trying their hand at the sport, and golf organizations are taking notice.

“Golf’s kind of got that cool factor again. It was missing for a few years and now it’s kind of back, and golf courses are adapting too, trying to make it more friendly and fun, with music and craft beers and interesting lounge menus, just trying to rebrand the game a little bit,” he said.

It is no surprise to see an uptick in traffic, given the nature of the sport. Not only is it a great physical and social outlet, King said, but it is very safe as well.

“Golf has proven that it’s a safe activity, the way the sport is, with tee times and only four people, the amount of acreage you’re spread over, you can do it distanced. It’s kind of a unique activity that just marries up with COVID protocols very well,” he said.

If you are interested in trying your hand at golf, tee times for each course can be made online at cochranegolfclub.ca, and at gleneaglesgolf.com/.