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Birmingham golf courses show business increase

By Kevin Elliott

Despite a global pandemic and partial lockdown for part of the year, golf memberships and rounds played at public golf courses in Birmingham were the highest in years.

The city of Birmingham operates two municipal golf courses. Lincoln Hills is located at 2666 W. 14 Mile Road at Cranbrook, and Springdale is located at 316 Strathmore Road.

Nationally, rounds of golf increased about 13.9 percent, according to the National Golf Foundation. Locally, the number of memberships increased 10 percent from 2019, while total rounds of golf increased more than 29 percent at the two golf courses, with 49,583 rounds in 2019 and 63,027 in 2020. Rounds played hit a record number in 2020, with the closest combined rounds in 2004 with 59,522.

“We did experience a few rainy days that hindered some weekend play during the summer months, but we were fortunate to have such favorable weather during this time,” Birmingham Golf Manager Jacquelyn Brito said in her annual golf report. “It truly would have been a different outcome if Mother Nature played a bigger role.”

The increases came after the governor opened golf courses on April 24, 2020, with Lincoln Hills opening the following day, and Springdale on April 27.

“2020 was one of the most challenging and unexpected years in many of our lives,” Brito said. “However, despite all of the craziness, golf thrived in the COVID world. It provided one of the only activities that people could do in a safe manner without numerous state restrictions.”

With the uncertainty at the start of the season, the city offered a $25 COVID-19 discount off of non-residential and business memberships. The discount was applied to 918 memberships, totaling $22,950.

Despite rounds of golf and memberships being up, revenue from food and beverages, beer and wine were all down in 2020, as food services struggled everywhere to comply with state-mandated restrictions. While food, beer and wine revenues were all up in 2019, $44,184, $44,342 and $2,661 respectively, food revenues dropped to $33,509 in 2020, with beer totaling $34,190 and wine $2,018.

“Considering the circumstances, we did OK,” Brito said. “We do anticipate to grow this back in 2021, but it will depend on the pandemic. We are optimistic and will offer items that we requested from our 'end of the season' survey.”

Revenues for the year totaled about $1.37 million, up from $1.19 million in 2019, with increases at both golf courses. Conversely, total expenditures dropped from $407,085 in 2019 to $348,490 in 2020.

Looking forward, Brito said the focus will remain on membership.

“The main focus always revolves around membership,” she said, “and with the abundant new members during COVID-19, we need to create activities, tournaments, leagues and lessons to connect these new golfers to the game. We will then capture the attention and excitement of each golfer in ways that will create a golfer for a lifetime.”


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