Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles chronicling the effects of COVID-19 on businesses and organizations in Oshawa.
Many businesses have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic but, golf courses have been soaring like a Tiger Woods’ drive.
“In the golf industry it’s been the biggest boom that’s ever happened,” said Bob Perkins, owner of Oshawa Airport Golf Club.
The club has been booked solid since they opened at the beginning of May, he said.
“I have been sold out of tee-times five days out of seven this whole year,” said Perkins.
Perkins said the golf club has seen a revenue increase of 50 per cent this season.
“It’s been very busy,” said Brian Langford, a starter at Oshawa Airport. “The hockey players can’t play hockey, the curlers can’t curl, baseball was a no-go, the only game in town was pretty much golf.”
Golfers aren’t ready to pack their clubs up yet, either.
“The traditional period of slowdown was always the week kids went back to school,” Perkins said. “(But) September was probably one of our best months ever.”
This year looked a bit different for golf courses due to the pandemic.
“We had to do a lot of changes to meet all the requirements,” Perkins said.
Golf courses across Ontario needed to make changes like adding cup risers to each hole, adding plexiglass in the clubhouse and additional sanitization to reopen.
“It was quite costly,” said Perkins. “Obviously, the revenues made up for (it) now but, we didn’t know where that was going to go when we first started out.”
Perkins said he has also taken other safety measures by spacing out tee times.
“We make sure there is an entire hole between each group” to limit the number of people gathered at the front, he said.
Although the golf course is “booming” they have also seen some challenges.
“The difficulty this year was actually finding staff,” said Perkins. “When the federal government gave all the students money to stay home, none of them were out searching for jobs.”
Perkins’ staff usually consists of university students. He said he remembers “scrambling for money in the summers as a student.
“I usually got 100 resumes every spring, I bet you I only got five,” said Perkins.
“We’ve been looking for marshals and starters all year,” said Langford. “I’m normally on a Monday afternoon but, all year we’ve had to get people to do a double shift on Saturday afternoons.”
Perkins said, his staff is worn out, noting “it’s been crazy hours and crazy busy.
“I’ve always been good at predicting things,” Perkins said. “It’s part of the business you learn what’s going on. This year everything I’ve ever known in my 30 years of business got thrown out the window.”
Perkins said he is hopeful, but not certain things will turn out the same next summer.
“I have to look at worst-case scenario and assume it will go back to what it used to be. If it’s better than that – great,” Perkins said.