Northeast Ohio golf courses hope to maintain momentum after strong gains in 2021

June 15 – Area golf courses hoping for greater success in 2022 may have a tough act to follow.

According to a linksmagazine.com article. The story cited data from a report published by the National Golf Federation.

Several golf course administrators in the area said they witnessed similar patterns during several rounds played at their properties. They said the surge was fueled by the same factors cited in the NGF study: more people returned to play golf and new golfers returned to the game after the worst of the pandemic.

As 2022 heads into the summer, golf courses in the region will have a better idea of ​​whether they can eclipse, or even maintain, their earnings in games played in 2021, especially as COVID-19 restrictions become a distant memory.

“COVID brought in a lot of new golfers and brought people back to golf which was great,” said Michael Caris, general manager of Briardale Greens Golf Course at Euclid. “The stability of (the trend) this year will really be seen, if people stay while other activities open up.”

At Blackbrook Golf Course in Mentor, 2021 has been a record year for games played and revenue. But matching that performance this year will be difficult, due to bad spring weather, said PGA professional and Blackbrook manager Tim Ausperk.

“This spring it was so wet and cold, we missed a lot of chances there,” he said.

Lake Metroparks operates two golf courses: Erie Shores Golf Course in Madison Township and Pine Ridge Country Club in Wickliffe. Business has exploded at both locations in 2021, said Lake Metroparks assistant manager Vince Urbanski.

“Last year was our best year (for golf) since 2012,” he said.

Although Erie Shores and Pine Ridge got off to a slow start in 2022 due to wet weather, Urbanski said the overall season still has a long way to go.

“Your prime months are May through September, then see what the weather is like in October and November,” he said. “We actually had a very nice November in 2020, so if we have the same type of weather in 2022, we’ll match what we did in 2021.”

Even without knowing how far the golf season will extend into the fall, Urbanski said he believes the Lake Metroparks golf course will be nearing the 2021 tally for rounds played.

“Once the weather turned nice (in May this year) we were fine again,” he said.

Regarding the impact of rising inflation on Briardale, Blackbrook, Erie Shores and Pine Ridge, here is what the administrators of each property had to say:

—Briardale Greens Golf Course: “Our gas prices went up, so our cart fees went up about a dollar, but the green fee itself stayed the same,” Caris said. “So basically the total price if you ride has gone up about a dollar there.”

—Blackbrook Golf Course: “We haven’t increased (the green fees) this year,” Ausperk said. “We did that last year because we hadn’t increased them for about 10 years.”

— Erie Shores Golf Course and Pine Ridge Country Club: “(The green fees) have gone up a bit this year,” Urbanski said. “Just to match the price increases we’re seeing in things like fertilizers and herbicides. Even seeds are up. Gas is up, obviously.”

In terms of the course improvements that have been made, the administrators of each property mentioned these projects:

—Briardale Greens Golf Course: Caris said renovating the cart paths was a major undertaking conducted primarily in the past year.

“We’re still tweaking a bit, but the project is 95% complete,” he said in a June 1 interview.

—Blackbrook Golf Course: Blackbrook replaced its 27 bunkers a few years ago, Ausperk said.

“Some of the bunkers have been replaced in their existing locations, with drainage and Jack Nicklaus quality bunker sand,” he said. “Some bunkers that we completely removed and turned into grass hollows. And then we added some (bunkers) in new locations.”

—Erie Shores Golf Course and Pine Ridge Country Club: In Erie Shores, Lake Metroparks has redone a few bunkers each year, Urbanski said. New tees and front tees have also been added to the course.

“At Pine Ridge, we redid the bunkers a few years ago,” he said. “We’re really focused now on getting some new tees in there.”

Administrators of the three golf courses also commented on trends they observed in golfer demographics.

—Briardale Greens Golf Course: Caris said the course is seeing more and more younger generation golfers and they come from outside the city of Euclid.

“We’re starting to really pull from downtown (Cleveland).” he said. “You see people coming from Mentor, Wickliffe, Willoughby. So we see a more diverse crowd, depending on age.”

—Blackbrook Golf Course: “Women’s golf is picking up, and so are kids,” Ausperk said.

He added that Blackbrook offers programs for children to help them get involved in golf and become good players.

—Erie Shores Golf Course and Pine Ridge Country Club: “We’re seeing more young people, anecdotally,” Urbanski said. “And we seem to be seeing more women playing golf, which is great. It’s a demographic that’s good to see growing in the game of golf.”

Michael C. Ford