Rounds up at golf courses

golf

More people are teeing it up at Minneapolis’ public golf courses this summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic limits other recreational and athletic activities.

“We’re on pace for our best year in a decade,” said Larry Umphrey, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s (MPRB) director of recreation programs and golf.

The Park Board reported that 80,596 rounds had been played as of June 30 on its five 18-hole and two nine-hole courses, which opened in April.

Umphrey said that MPRB courses are operating at “95%-plus capacity” on most Fridays and weekends and are slightly less busy Monday through Thursday.

Golf revenue is up roughly 15% over last year, despite limited beverage sales, he said.

MPRB golf courses are taking precautions to limit close contact between players and staff and to eliminate high-touch surfaces.

It has asked golfers to arrive at its courses no more than 20 minutes before tee times and is not allowing golfers to drive together on a golf cart unless they live in the same household. Club rentals are not available, and all water stations, ball washers, benches and rakes for sand traps have been removed from courses. The cups on the putting greens have been modified so golfers no longer need to touch the pin when retrieving their balls.

Umphrey said courses have generally been able to accommodate the additional demand for golf carts.

Tee times have been spaced eight minutes apart, like in past years, but courses have been blocking off spots on the tee sheet to ensure that groups stay spaced apart.

Umphrey said rounds were slow in the beginning of the year but have sped up since the Park Board began renting out golf carts.

“We’re happy people are out playing golf,” he said. “We’re in a spot that no one wants to be in, but we’re navigating the best we can.”