Pandemic Affect on Florida Golf?

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By Doug E

  • 9 Replies
  1. Doug E

    Doug E
    Urbana, MD

    I'm curious to hear from Florida golfers on this. Most years, I visit my family who have all lived in the Sarasota area since the early 90s. Normally one visit is for a week either at Thanksgiving or Christmas, and the other visit is for a couple weeks in February. Multiple rounds of golf are always part of those trips. However, this year, I have not been down there at all due to the the recommendations for travel, group get-togethers and social distancing. My mom is over 90 so I'm taking no chances with her.

    As you Florida guys know, golf is expensive and prime tee times are hard to come by most everywhere in winter. The Snowbirds overrun nearly every track as well as everything else in Florida, especially the roads. Is this year any different? Are there less people clogging up the courses because less people are traveling to FL, or is it the contrary? If it's worse, I am almost glad I'm not down there this year (except for missing the visit with Mom).

    Here in Maryland (and so many other areas around the country) the increase in golfers and rounds played since returning from the 7-week, mandatory Covid shutdown has been overwhelmingly high. Tee sheets have been full 7 days a week until an hour and a half before dark. Pace of play is even slower than normal, and golf etiquette seems nearly non-existent.

    My home course (I've been a full member there for years) is an upscale, pricey, daily-fee club with a very high course rating and slope. Not a place recommended for new golfers. Before the pandemic they were averaging 200+ rounds on good weekend days and about 100 rounds on midweek days. This year, since the return from the shutdown in May, they averaged over 250 rounds on weekends and 200 midweek rounds (unless the weather was bad). By August they had already done more rounds than they did in all of their previous best year ever, 2019. And from what I have seen at other area courses, they are all packed solid too. This year has been like winter golf in Florida all over this area, but we don't have a "Snowbird" population. It's never been like this before.

    I suppose there's still a chance I may be able to get down there late Feb-early March should we be fortunate enough to get Covid under control quickly. I'll take my clubs anyway, but should I expect to play much? I usually book afternoon times when the rate is a few bucks lower, but if it's anything like it's been here, I'm afraid there will be no tee times available early enough to allow for a full 18?

  2. Paul C

    Paul C
    Beech Mountain, NC

    I have a lot of friends in Naples and they have seen record numbers just like the rest of the country. With Winter finally setting in, we have 9" of snow on the ground and lows around zero the last two nights, I have to assume everything in the Sun Belt will be inundated. Sarasota is likely to be a real hot spot, too. With Florida having such good Winter weather and relaxed restrictions compared to the Northern States it's a recipe for record numbers of visitors and rounds of golf. Not that most places could pack many more on then in the past this time of year. As always, I would take my clubs in hopes of getting in a round or two. However, pace of play will probably be terrible.
  3. Frank P

    Frank P
    Port St. Lucie, FL

    Currently there are no restrictions on golf anywhere in Florida that I'm aware of. There is a smaller amount of Canadiens here this winter due to border restrictions, but everything is pretty much up and running at full speed. I'm sure that you'll get a tee time.
  4. Brock L

    Brock L
    Fort Myers, FL

    Peak season is really just starting here in South Florida, but the golf courses have been pretty busy the last month or so. Most courses are booked pretty solid until about 1:30-2pm each day, which is pretty common with or without Covid. By March, the days will be getting longer, so you will be able to tee off around 3pm and still get 18 holes in.
  5. peter g

    peter g
    NH or FL

    The Villages (693 holes championship golf) is getting busy with better weather and the snowbirds arriving in flocks! Tee times still available most days with free golf on exec courses.
  6. 19hole

    Reading, MA

    Tee times are readily available at Greater Orlando courses. Prices seem to be the same or less than previous years and the traffic on the roads is much lighter.
  7. Chuck Z

    Chuck Z
    Mt Pleasant, SC

    Courses in Myrtle have been open since day one.
  8. Norman T

    Norman T
    Orlando, FL

    Most all the courses here in Orlando have been pretty busy, That being said I haven't had any issues getting a tee time. I'm not a early bird though, I tend to be a noon golfer.

  9. tony k

    tony k
    bradenton, FL

    I work at a course in the Sarasota area and like most courses we have stayed pretty busy as everyone has felt golf is safer than most other sports. Most of the courses around us are now requiring people to ride two to a cart and the days of individual carts are done. For those who insist they can't be riding with another we do have a number of carts with Covid dividers. It is quite amazing that four people can ride an hour to the course in the same car with the A/C running but become argumentative when told two to a cart. Masks are required in the clubhouse. So far this winter we are missing a ton of normal play that comes down from Canada. Still no water out on the course and no rakes in the traps. Everyone seems to be getting used to leaving the pins in and in general most people are just so glad to get the chance to play that little else bothers them. Somewhere around here depending on your budget you will most likely find a tee time. C'mon down.
  10. Doug E

    Doug E
    Urbana, MD

    @tonyK At which course do you work? Just curious. I don't know that there are many in Bradenton that I haven't played over my many years of visiting family in the vicinity.

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