Golf courses continue big years

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

Buffalo Trace Golf Course in Jasper is having its most successful season in its 50-year history.

The course at the Huntingburg Country Club is in great shape and having one of its best years.

Sultan’s Run Golf Club in Jasper is also thriving.

This year has been filled with safety precautions, but despite the disruptions they have caused, the golf industry has felt a boost in recent months. As courses ride out their successful runs, local leadership aims to keep that momentum going into the future.

“We’re surprised that it just keeps going up,” said Rob Gutgsell, assistant director of the Jasper Park & Recreation Department. “But it’s just something that people are liking to do. You can social distance and stay away from people playing golf.”

Buffalo Trace — which is owned and operated by the city — brought in north of $80,000 in August, which was over $13,000 more than the course brought in during the same month last year. It pulled in $87,180.48 in July — more than $21,000 more than it brought in during July of 2019. Every month this summer has been “pretty much a record month for Buffalo Trace,” Gutgsell explained.

September was the biggest yet. The course’s revenue was $93,000.

Because Buffalo Trace is a city facility, the many dollars coming into it are split in a few ways. The biggest chunk goes into the city’s general fund and offsets the amount of taxpayer dollars needed for operations at the course. Part of the money from golf cart rental goes to paying for new carts, and a small percentage of alcohol sales goes to a fund designed to bring a new pro shop to the course in the near future.

Angie Hasenour, manager of the Huntingburg Country Club, shared that her facility’s course is still experiencing an increase in golfers as summer turns to fall. The site is “busy nonstop, Sunday through Sunday.”

“It is crazy how it has picked up,” she said in a Monday phone interview. “With new members coming out, it’s just insane.”

In addition to the ease of social distancing that golf allows, Hasenour also pointed to the pleasant weather that has shined down upon the county recently when asked about the country club’s successful summer. Playing the course is something guests can do from a safe distance, she said.

Employees at all three courses are still sanitizing, disinfecting and and taking other health precautions. The Huntingburg course is in excellent shape, Hasenour said, later adding that the greens are “probably in the best shape they’ve been” in for a long time.

“The course is in excellent shape,” she said, “and we definitely have had one of the best years with play outside.”

Sultan’s Run Golf Club in Jasper has experienced between a 10 percent and 15 percent increase in play this season. The number of golfers who used the course and live outside the area also increased from about 60 percent to about 70 percent.

“I’ve seen license plates in the parking lot from Tennessee and Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio [and] Maryland,” said Chris Tretter, general manager and co-owner of Sultan’s Run. “So we’ve seen people from a lot of different states coming in here to play.”

The sharp increase puts the course at the top end of the number of rounds management would like to host a year, Tretter said. Any more could actually damage the greens, tee boxes and fairways.

“We’re pleased with the level of play that we saw this year,” he explained, “but we really don’t want to go beyond that.”

Looking to the future, each course has plans to carry their momentum into 2021.

Buffalo Trace will continue enhancements to its back nine, Gutgsell said, as well as find ways to appeal to youth golfers.

The Huntingburg Country Club is offering a special for those who sign up for memberships this fall.

At Sultan’s Run, the size of the waterfall on the 18th hole will be doubled and the course’s banquet area will be outfitted with a covered patio for gatherings. A new fleet of golf carts outfitted with GPS and geofencing will arrive at the site in about three weeks.




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