BOZEMAN- As summer events across the nation continue to cancel due to COVID-19, local golf courses are seeing more and more new faces hitting the links.
Head Golf Professional Jim Halberg at Cottonwood Hills Golf Course said he’s seen the number of people taking golf lessons triple from last year’s numbers.
Cottonwood Hills Pro Shop Manager Johanna Eekhoff is born and raised in Bozeman and said they have seen all new faces both young and old coming into the clubhouse to play this summer.
“We’ve seen an increase in people coming out, kids for sure, beginners, and people that want to get started in the game again, people are bringing their family members out, so it’s been really nice,” Eekhoff said.
The surge of golfers is a sigh of relief as the sports world came to a standstill during the height of the pandemic.
“Like most businesses we knew we were in new territory and we weren’t sure what was going to happen… but it turned out that golf can be a very COVID-safe environment,” Halberg said.
Including the championship course, the nine-hole executive course, and the driving range, there is more than 150 acres of space to social distance.
With staggered tee times and no more than four people to a group at most public courses, golf is a social distancing friendly sport.
“When they’re out on the course six feet is very easy to maintain and really when you’re playing golf, you’d prefer not to have somebody closer than six feet to you anyway,” Halberg added.
Besides a few safety measures, the game of golf really hasn’t changed.
“We have to leave the flagsticks in, we have a cutoff pool noodle at the bottom so the ball can still go in the hole, every time a golf cart comes in off the golf course it’s totally sanitized, even things like all of our range baskets are sanitized,” Halberg explained.
Halberg and Eekhoff said that they all owe it to the wonderful Bozeman community for coming out and supporting them during these uncertain times.
“The community as a whole has just been wonderful and very, very supportive of our business and happy to be out playing golf, get outside and get away from the four walls that they’re looking at inside their house,” Halberg said.
Even with the rise in the number of golfers, Halberg hopes to see more and more new faces until they have to close by the end of October.
The Gallatin Valley Open will still happen starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, to Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020 at 11 a.m.
More information on Cottonwood Hills Golf Course can be found here.