CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The recent string of record warmth provided a late-season business boost for golf courses.
While many businesses have been struggling to keep their doors open amid the coronavirus pandemic, this sport saw increases unlike any it had ever seen.
“Business is booming" is not a commonly heard phrase during the pandemic, but for golf courses, they're busier than they've ever been before.
Despite a late start to the season, tee sheets have been booked daily since opening in late May.
Ryan Hall, manager of municipal golf Courses Franconia and Veterans, attributes this to cooperative weather and a lack of rainfall.
Western Mass News also spoke with Mike O'Neill, director of golf at Chicopee Country Club, who echoed Hall’s sentiments.
“Once we got up and going, and the guidelines loosened up starting in June, business has been excellent,” O’Neill said. “It's been very very good just with an outdoor sport, and I think people feel safer outside. It was a great year of weather for golf, and we kind of flourished with it."
The pandemic has turned out golfers in record numbers, including those new to the sport. With hybrid learning and remote working in place, schedule flexibility has allowed for people to take to the course much more frequently than ever before. Normally, things slow down business-wise by November, but the recent stretch of 70-degree temperatures had golf courses feeling like peak season all over again.
“Yeah, absolutely, up here in the northeast, November is always kind of a bonus month whatever you can get if you can get 10, 12 days of nice weather, and with last week being in the 70s, we were busy all seven days," he said.
The only real challenge this late in the season is early sunsets.
While the lack of morning frost with the late-season warmth boosts early tee times, lack of daylight heading into the evenings is the only reason people aren't still out on the course through 8 p.m.
Like everything else, safety adjustments had to be made and were constantly changing. But with a lack of activities available, customers did so gladly.
“All year, golf was a great sport to be outside, to social distance,” O’Neill said. “It was a challenge this year with the continuing guideline updates, the mask mandates, the golf cart the single golf cart mandates but the golfers are great with it, you know, it was great to see them come up with a smile on their face and be happy and enjoying themselves around the golf course, and hopefully next spring when we reopen, things will be better in the world and a little bit more back to normal."
Courses traditionally close the week after Thanksgiving once the ground starts freezing, since the grass won't grow back.
Additionally, concessions and pro shops aren't winterized. But if there is more late-season warmth, the city could decide to keep courses open later than usual this year.
For anyone still planning to get in a late-season game of golf, courses plan to stay open through the end of November.