Nova Scotia golf courses enjoy banner year despite pandemic

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It’s been a banner year for Nova Scotia golf courses despite the pandemic.

In fact, some courses around the province set records.

“We had over 26,000 rounds and we normally do around 17-18,000,” said Tanner Gayton, the director of golf at the Links at Penn Hills in Shubenacadie. “That’s a pretty large increase for us, especially because we lost six weeks.”

Those six weeks came in the spring when the spread of COVID-19 and the public health restrictions that came with it caused many Nova Scotia courses to open later than normal.

A trio of golfers approach the seventh green during a recent round at the Chester Golf Club. (Chester Golf Club)

But golfers flocked to the courses once they could tee it up in May.

“It was a strange year to say the least,” said Dave MacMillan, the general manager of the Chester Golf Club. “Back in April, when COVID was really coming on strong, golf wasn’t even on the radar.”

Unlike most sports, a golf course allows for easy physical distancing.

“People came out in droves from the very beginning once we were allowed to open,” said MacMillan. “We had really nice weather all season long and our tee-sheet was basically full every single day.”

A golfer watches his tee shot on the 10th hole at the Hartlen Point Golf Club in Eastern Passage. (Agnes Rendell)

Restaurants inside clubhouses were not able to open until later in the summer. That meant courses lost some of that revenue, but the steady flow of players helped offset those losses.

“There were studies done in early spring by the [Nova Scotia Golf Association] that really left us unsure what was going to happen, and if courses could even survive,” said Gayton.

“To come out as good as we did, and from what I hear pretty much every course is in the same boat with record-setting years for rounds played, it turned out to be a good thing.”

Penn Hills is closed for the season but many other courses are cashing in on some mild fall weather.

Paragon Golf and Country Club in Kingston saw a 25 per cent increase in play in 2020 and will have around 32,000 rounds played by the time the course closes later this month.

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