Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles chronicling the effects of COVID-19 on businesses and organizations in Oshawa.
As some businesses in Durham Region struggle to survive in this COVID-19 pandemic, Kedron Dells Golf Club in north Oshawa has had a busy summer serving stir crazy customers wanting to golf.
Kedron Dells general manager, and owner since 2009, Philip Brown, said it was a slow start to the season due the provincial-government imposed lockdown in the spring.
“As soon as March 13 hit, we had zero revenue for two months, until the 16th of May,” when the Province allowed golf courses to open, said Brown.
When mid-May hit, the restrictions loosened up for customers to start the season. During the preceding two months Kedron Dells did get help from the government.
“The wage subsidy helped us through those two months (March-May). After that we did not qualify,” said Brown.
When golf got the green light in Ontario “it was like letting the horses out of the barn,” said Brown.
Golfers, inside too long due to the pandemic, were excited that golf – and Kedron Dells – was back in business.
“This has been the busiest year as far as tee times,” said Brown, noting the club had to cap its junior membership because young golfers were snapping them up.
Due to COVID-19, management increased time between the tee offs for customers to have more space on the course and increase social distancing. Kedron Dells switched from an 8-9 minute intervals for tee times to a 10-minute interval, said Brown, adding that decision cuts 12 tee off times – and up to 48 paying customers – in a single day. Still, the 10-minute tee interval has proven so successful Brown is considering keeping it permanently.
Before Brown became general manager and owner of Kedron Dells, he was assistant manager when witnessing a golf legend arrive on the golfing landscape.
“In the year 2000 Tiger Woods came up on the scene,” said Brown. Further talking about the late 1990’s and early 2000’s as being some of the most successful years for the business.
Brown relates the business of the 2020 season to the 2000 season when Tiger Woods was dominating.
Brown said, “2019 was a good year, but again if you are not on top of your business every single day and looking forward, it is something that can get away on you.”
Although golf has been booming, a significant portion of revenue at Kedron Dells comes in the form of catered events and weddings which had to be revised heavily as the provincial rules around social gatherings fluctuate.
Many protocols such as not touching the flagpole and not putting rakes in the bunkers were measures needed for golfers to stay safe during their rounds. Dividers between to seats in the golf carts were also one priority in the changes being made due to COVID-19.
“There is a lot of responsibility, but that is part of owning a business and taking care of the daily challenges,” said Brown.