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B-N Golf Course Managers Project Slight Drop From Pandemic High

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Golfers enjoying a round of golf at Ironwood Golf Course in Normal.

Normalcy is be on the horizon for the public, and golf course managers in Bloomington-Normal project the same for their courses.

Social distancing during the pandemic has made golf a more attractive option for more than a year. Small groups play, and they are inside only briefly to get equipment or pay course fees.

“People were looking for a recreational activity to do that still felt normal,” said Jason Wingate, director of golf for the City of Bloomington.

Craig Onsrud is the golf course manager for Ironwood Golf Course in Normal. Onsrud and Wingate described spring 2020 as some of the highest golf course traffic they'd ever seen.

Golf tends to skew to an older age group, but Onsrud said that was not the case last season.

“The younger generation picking up the game of golf is a good thing. It is what we need,” he said.

Onstud and Wingate suggested early season data show a return to pre-pandemic course use might now be happening.

The return to the traditional workplace in recent weeks has affected the desire to play golf often, they said. While there is a large quantity of new players of the game, there are fewer regular golfers.

“I think the biggest drop has been the rounds by the avid golfer. People that would play two or three rounds a week now play a round every two or three weeks,” said Onsrud, describing the current traffic on golf courses.

Onsrud also felt the decline of remote work could be a factor. He said working from home let people be more in control of their schedules and when they recreate.

Wingate said he is optimistic, but conservative, about the upcoming season.

“I think there will be some regression just because people had so much more time last year. From what we are hearing, I think people have a greater appreciation for the game and we are still going to have a really great year.”

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