Page 21 - BusinessWest April 27, 2020
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Dropped Shots
Golf Industry Sits and Waits to See When It Can Get the Ball Rolling
 By George O’Brien
Ted Perez Jr. calls it a “non- winter.” And he’s seen more than a few during
roughly a half-century of work at East Mountain Country Club in Westfield, where he’s now the president and head professional.
A non-winter is just what it sounds like — a winter that isn’t. And that’s what this region had in 2019-20, except for those few weeks in early December.
Thus, East Mountain, as it is whenever the weather allows, was open most days all through the first three and half months of this year, so much so that Perez said the club, built by his father in 1960, was on target for its best year in perhaps a few decades.
“Golf certainly isn’t what it was 25 years ago, and it’s been a long time since we’ve had a sustained good year,” he said, referring to a
downturn that started with the Great Recession and has lingered since. “But we were on course to have as good a year as we’ve had in a very long time.”
Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed things in a hurry. All courses in the state were ordered closed in late March, as well as their 19th hole and banquet facilities. By then, pretty much every banquet and event through March, April, and May
had been cancelled or postponed anyway.
All this is bad, but what makes
it far worse is that Perez and other course owners and managers can’t understand the order — golf is played outdoors, and it’s relatively easy to socially distance — and they can’t plan because no one knows
if or when the ban on play will be lifted.
Ted Perez says his course could somehow manage an early-May reopening of golf courses, but problems would certainly escalate if the current ban went on much longer.
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