The Resurgence of Golf in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Written By: Steve Skinner
The KemperLesnik team has continued to work closely alongside our properties during this challenging time to provide thoughtful counsel, creative thinking and additional support. We are thrilled at the news of properties reopening throughout the country, and we look forward to continued success for our clients.
We sat down with Steve Skinner, CEO of KemperLesnik and KemperSports to discuss the what the resurgence of golf means for our industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested us in ways that we never imagined. It has challenged our strength, our resolve and our patience. As stay-at-home orders turn from days to weeks, and weeks to months, as a nation we are anxious for a reprieve or even small glimpses of normalcy.
Golf has always provided such a reprieve. Whether one enjoys the game for its comradery, mental stimulation and friendly competition or for the ability to enjoy a good walk in some of the prettiest settings imaginable, golf is special. For many, golf signifies well-deserved time out of the office or a chance to connect with new and old friends. It also happens to be an activity that is enjoyed outdoors in wide open spaces, making it one of the most ideal sports that can be played safely while adhering to social distancing mandates.
Over the last week we have been able to reopen golf in many states, including California, Illinois, Wisconsin, New Jersey, New York and Washington. Within days, we hope to reopen our courses in Maryland. As of mid-May, more than 90 percent of our courses here at KemperSports will be open for restricted golf and limited food and beverage service.
Our KemperSports team has worked tirelessly and planned meticulously for weeks to ensure that each open property is ready to operate with the safety of our guests and staff foremost in our minds. Through this, our teams are witnessing firsthand the important benefits that golf is providing to people during these challenging times. The reopening has also allowed us to bring back many of our furloughed staff allowing them to provide for their families. I feel strongly that with the right precautions, golf can and should reopen fully in all 50 states. We are ready.
In states where courses have reopened, the demand for golf is at an all-time high. While it is certainly good for business, it is also a big step in the right direction for the sport as a whole. Here in Illinois, securing a tee time on the opening weekend was comparable to winning the lottery as properties quickly sold out across the state.
As we celebrate these re-openings, we cannot help but smile as we hear stories of first-timers, families and occasional players booking tee times in attempt to enjoy the open air and find a different form of entertainment and challenge. Properties are witnessing new players flock to the game like never before, and we are anxious to see the lasting result of this resurgence. Even in these trying times, it is incumbent upon the golf industry to share with newcomers how special golf can be.
As excited as we are to dust off our clubs and hit the links, we must remember the severity of the situation around us and how it is imperative for all players to follow the new operating procedures and safety protocols. Staggered tee times, capacity limits and curbside clubhouses are a small price to pay in exchange to get outside and play golf while also containing the spread of the virus. In another light, is keeping carts in the barn and enjoying golf in the way it was intended the worst thing to happen? We have all had to adapt in one way or another these last few months, and I’m confident that these small adaptations on the course will be happily taken in stride until we can get to the next stage of operation.
Golf means different things to different people, but right now, players are bonding together through one shared meaning: hope. During these times of unpredictability, golf remains a beacon of hope for many, and we have never been prouder to be in this business while providing a safe way for all to enjoy the game.