Golf is on the Upswing, Thanks to COVID-19

Golfers at Knight’s Play Golf Center in Apex wear masks as they play.

Looking for an outdoor activity while wanting to limit exposure to the coronavirus, residents of Western Wake are taking a swing at golf.

Prestonwood Country Club

The Cary country club experienced a 30-35 percent increase in golfers since March 20, says Jeff Holden, director of golf operations at Prestonwood.

“That is mainly in part due to this being one of the few forms of recreation acceptable right now,” he said.  “It seems like people are starting to gravitate towards the sport because of the ability to follow all the social distancing guidelines.”

In March and April, Holden saw more families playing together. He remarked on the large number of families with college-age children who were sent home early from their universities. Families of golfers aren’t the only ones taking to the course; members who have little to no experience are starting to play.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of people that are looking for golf instruction, so that tells us that the sport is engaging a new group of golfers,” Holden said.

Apart from having space to socially distance, playing golf has a host of other benefits, he says.

“They have been promoting healthy activities as a way to boost the immune system,” Holden said. “Golf is one of those activities where you have the option to walk. If you walk 18 holes playing golf, you’re walking 5-8 miles. When you play, you only touch your golf clubs and your golf balls. You don’t need to touch the flag stick. It’s a very safe form of recreation; there’s no contact with any others.”

A shopper at Knight’s Play Golf Center protects herself with a mask.

Knight’s Play Golf Center

Head Golf Professional at Knight’s Play Golf, Kevin Jones, has also seen an increase in the number of golfers at his Apex course.

“We didn’t really slow down at all, if anything it got busier,” he said. “We are always super busy in the months between April and Labor Day. But we definitely have been busier this year than past years, and it is mostly new golfers.”

Jones is seeing new faces in addition to hundreds of regular customers.

“There are people who I have never met and never seen that tell me, ‘Oh yeah, I played golf in college and then got married and had kids.’ They haven’t played golf in 30 years and now they’re back playing, because there’s so much they couldn’t do,” he said.

Jones and the other employees are doing what they can to keep equipment clean and ensure the safety of both customers and employees.

“We stayed open and we just tried to do everything the powers that be told us to do. We have signs everywhere, all the signs on the doors and all over the property encouraging social distancing, all the stuff that everybody is doing,” he said. “The good Lord gave us common sense, I really believe in that, and if you use that, it goes a long way.”

Since golf is a no-contact sport, Jones says that’s one reason Western Wake families are adopting the sport as their outdoor activity of choice.

“We have 110 acres out here, so there’s plenty of room to space out. We have 60 stations on the range, and they are comfortably six feet apart,” he said. “You’re not following each other or tackling each other, like in football, or sliding into second base. The biggest thing is being outside and having that freedom.”

Employees at Lochmere Golf Club wear masks.

Lochmere Golf Club

The Cary golf club has also seen a rise in players, notably families in search of a safe outdoor activity.

Corey Pion, the general manager at Lochmere, thinks golf is a great option for anyone with extra time on their hands.

“Golf is only of the only outdoor avenues we have to relax to take the stress away,” he said. “A lot of our members were travelers in their careers, and since a lot of travel was knocked down, there has been a lot of new time to play golf.”

Lochmere continues to operate according to the guidelines instituted by the PGA and Park and Play.

Pion believes golf is an attractive option for those wanting to stay active.

“It’s a non-contact sport, you don’t touch other people and you can maintain social distancing and play golf,” he said. “Matter of fact, I like it when people stay six feet away from me when I play.”

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