Golf courses happy to have high school teams back this fall
Golf courses went through an economic struggle at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it hasn't caused many to cut ties with area high school programs gearing up for their fall seasons.
There's a variety of reasons for that. While high school programs do often get a discounted rate when they hold their meets and tournaments, they are still paying to use the courses and ranges.
They also provide patrons who purchase concessions. And players who might go play practice rounds at a course they have an upcoming meet or tournament at.
And perhaps most importantly, it helps generate interest in the game for a future generation of customers.
"Back in the day 15 years ago golf was struggling. High school golf was a way to bring people to a golf course in the afternoon and evening when it was slower," said Bruce Stoller, the general manager at Arrowhead in Wheaton. "For us that was never really the issue. It was more about helping the community and maintaining the relationship with the school district."
Arrowhead, owned by the Wheaton Park District, hosts both the Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South boys and girls programs. Stoller said they will again this fall.
Rick Walrath is the course manager at Pinecrest Golf Club in Huntley. In past years both Huntley's boys and girls teams have used Pinecrest as its home course.
While there currently isn't a signed contract for this fall, Walrath expects to be hosting high school meets again.
"Nothing concrete because nobody knows for certain there will be high school golf this fall," Walrath said. "But we are more than happy to host the teams again following all the guidelines that are put out."
Walrath said the economics work out for hosting the high school teams. That's true even after the slow start to the year in April when courses could only have tee times every 15 minutes, only two players in a group, and no carts or beverage carts.
"Every course has to price those differently," Walrath said. "Part of the operations of a golf course is not charging as much as you can for every single person. You realize some groups and organizations being high schools or league play, all of those things mixed together to come up with an average daily rate. You have to work that into your budget. If you are going to charge high school players X amount and then you have your daily public paying a different amount it's going to be making sure at the end of the day you are where you want to be in terms of what ownership wants."
Naperville North athletic director Bob Quinn said the Huskies are set to return to Springbrook. He's optimistic high school golf will be one sport that's back this fall.
"We have not heard any issues with hosting tournaments," Quinn said. "Golf seems to be a sport that lends itself very nicely to social distancing and healthful practices ... not to mention, they have been running the courses already."
Wauconda athletic director Mark Ribbens said his boys and girls golf coaches have been in contact with their home course, Prairie Isle in Crystal Lake, and they are planning on the same schedule. They also are hosting a Class 2A girls regional.
"We have all plans to go ahead and do it," Ribbens said. "We should be good to go."
Steve Rockrohr, athletic director at Glenbrook South, said he also is expecting a full schedule at their home course, the Glenview Park Golf Club.