Local golf courses thrived during COVID
By Kevin Elliott
Public golf courses in Birmingham reached a new record with the number of memberships in 2021, according to the city’s annual golf report.
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 played have increased during the pandemic, with 2020 among the strongest years in recent history. That trend held true in Birmingham, both in 2020 and 2021, said Birmingham City Golf Manager Jacquelyn Brito.
“While most sports struggled to survive the pandemic, golf has managed to thrive, becoming more popular than it’s been in decades,” Brito said. “New golfers are entering the game with a different perspective. Their mindset of becoming a good player and mastering the game has been replaced with their need to be outdoors, spending time with family and friends, and to have the ability to properly socially distance themselves from others.”
Memberships at both of Birmingham’s public courses increased in the past two years. Resident and non-resident memberships totaled 3,223 in 2021, up from 2,866 in 2020. Pre-pandemic memberships peaked in 2015 with 2,946 total memberships. In terms of rounds played, Britto said 64,065 combined rounds were played at the two golf courses in 2021, just 38 more than 2020, but far more than the 29,583 played in 2019. Gold rounds at Springdale totaled 29,493 in 2020, up 1,634 from 2020. Rounds played at Lincoln Hills totaled 34,576, down 1,592 from 2020.
While Britto said food and beverage sales were limited during the pandemic, both courses had increases in total sales over previous years. Total food and beverage sales at Lincoln Hills totaled $56,975 in 2021, up from $41,645 in 2020 and $53,341 in 2019. Springdale sold $46,494 in food and beverages in 2021, up from $27,771 in 2020 and $37,871 in 2019.
Overall, net income at both courses more than doubled since pre-pandemic years, including substantial increases in the past year. Net income at Lincoln Hills totaled $240,316 in 2021, up from $193,900 the previous year. Pre-pandemic net income totaled $68,211 in 2019, $49,629 in 2018 and $115,895 in 2017.
Net-income increases at Springdale Golf Course were even larger, with $139,364 in 2021, up from $65,436 in 2020, and losses of $58,712 in 2019 and a net loss of $100,811 in 2018.
Britto said weather was one of the biggest factors in rounds of golf played, with high numbers for April and May.
“Mother Nature visited a few times this summer, and the storms were torrential downfalls,” she said. “At least they were short and quick, versus long and slow moving events. It was definitely a factor this year, and if the weather was similar to 2020, we may have surpassed last year in rounds and cart revenues.”