Mid-Michigan golf clubs roar back to life with spring
Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and a cold winter means golfers are ready to go. And so are local golf courses.
With warmer temperatures and golf courses opening to the public just recently, many are eager to get back. Carey Mitchelson of College Fields Golf Club and Cory Amendt of Eagle Eye Golf Club weigh in on the happenings at their respective golf courses.
College Fields Golf Club in Okemos has been in operation since 2005. Along with having an 18-hole course, it also has a driving range, a short game area with 40 yards of fairway turf, a practice bunker, a pro shop with merchandise, and an outdoor patio with a full service bar and grill.
Director of Operations Carey Mitchelson said that despite some of the current struggles the business is facing, things are looking up compared to the previous two years. April was especially cool and wet this year, deterring people from the golf courses. They are also facing a lack of labor and employees, adding another struggle that’s not in their control.
Along with that, Mitchelson said that although the pro shop is fully stocked for this year, they are currently facing a shortage of merchandise, in part due to the currently slow shipping process.
“Although our merchandising problem is not as bad as during COVID, we are still worried that we will run out of stock, which could become a problem,” said Mitchelson.
It has also hosted several notable events for various organizations including the United States Golf Association, the Golf Association of Michigan, the Greater Lansing Area Golf Association, and the Michigan Women’s Golf Association.
College Fields has gotten rid of all their previous COVID-19 protocols for this year. The course, which was previously shut down to leagues and events, is now open. Gatherings are now permitted, food and beverage are allowed to be served, the outside bar is now open again, and all sanitation has been removed from the golf carts.
Its closing during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 caused the business to make various changes to its structure and style. The course was renovated by improving the bunkers, making it more playable. They also added more options for apparel and golf items to the pro shop.
Another prominent golf course in the area is the Eagle Eye Golf Club group, which owns and operates five different courses. These include Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath Township, Hawk Hollow Golf Course in Bath Township, Timber Ridge Golf Club in Bath Township, Woodside Golf Course in Lansing, and The Falcon Golf Course in East Lansing. Marketing Director Cory Amendt is responsible for all five courses along with a management team.
“2020 was a great year for us because golf was one of few activities you could do,” said Amendt.
When the course opened for the first time after the forced shutdown in April 2020 when the state modified restrictions on courses, patrons were able to golf but they could not share golf carts or even use the clubhouses.
Despite this, 2020 was prosperous in terms of popularity and revenue, which continued into 2021. Now in 2022, the popularity and demand is still there post-pandemic, with business as usual and no restrictions. He expects the boost from 2020 and 2021 to continue.
The main sources of revenue for the courses are merchandise, food and beverage. However, he says the company continues to have a difficult time getting inventory for the pro shops, with many orders not being delivered on time along with increasing costs.
These golf courses were able to remain successful despite the adversity and difficulties the pandemic caused. Because of the pandemic, these businesses have become more well-equipped to deal with adversity.
These businesses now hope that they will make even more revenue now that the pandemic is dwindling down and people seem less concerned. Golf courses were some of the few types of businesses that actually benefited from the pandemic.
The fact that golf is an outdoor activity means that there are no restrictions as there would be if it were indoors. Also with the virus less likely to spread outdoors, people weren’t as concerned since they were outside.
As the more playable days near, these businesses are expecting to look up from here, improving on what was already a flourishing industry.