Golf Courses Fight for Rounds

For some Naperville families, summertime means pitching out of the rough and putting on the greens just as much cooking out with family and heading to the pool.

But economic pressures and a plethora of courses have meant fewer golfers and golfing families are taking to the courses this year. For those that do, they have plenty of choices about where they play and how much they pay.

“It’s a buyer’s market,” says Kevin Carlson, superintendent of both Naperbrook and Springbrook Golf Courses. “They have a lot of different choices to make, and we hope that obviously they come out here and experience our golf courses, as they’re in great shape. We feel like we have a great product for everybody to enjoy.”

A recent National Golf Foundation study found that there are plenty of golf courses, but not enough golfers to play them. The significance of this means 100-150 public courses could close over the next 5-10 years. However, here in Naperville, golf managers are more worried about the wet weather seen this golf season so far.

“It makes for some sleepless nights,” said Carlson. “It’s been difficult this year. We’ve been lucky the past few years with no big storms and not a lot of rain. This year, we’ve kind of been hit by everything.”

Dean Westrom, the director of Golf Operations for the DuPage County Forest Preserve, agrees that not only the wet weather, but a sweltering July has put a damper on traffic to the three golf courses he oversees. But that challenge has forced his staff to get creative while encouraging golfers to come out to the course.

“We don’t do a lot of publications where we have coupons and coupon books and things like that,” remarks Westrom. “Most of all of our contact is done through emails and electronic format, which has worked out very well for us.” Because of the abundance of Chicagoland courses, local golf pros find they have to be innovative to keep golfers both young and old putting it in the hole. That’s just fine for managers like Westrom and Carlson, who feel they have the chops to keep their golfers coming out early and often.

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