Wet weather cuts number of rounds played at Naperville golf courses

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Naperville Park District’s Director of Golf Ed Provow has had a lot of “off” days this summer, but not because he’s been given more vacation time.

For Provow and golf lovers throughout the Midwest, it’s been a summer of too much rain.

“The rain has kept the number of rounds down this year, and we’re running pretty much at the same level as we did a year ago,” Provow said. “Things are very similar to the summer of 2013 and things spike when the weather is nice, but people don’t come out when it isn’t.”

Last spring and early summer were wet as well. Provow said there are no hard numbers available in terms of net revenue at the district’s two golf course this summer, but overall, the financial picture seems to be mirroring 2013.

“We have had to use cost savings measures including reducing the number of staff hours, and, of course, we’ve not been able to maintain the courses the way we’d like, since when it’s dry, we mow them every day,” Provow said. “After the rains stop, there’s a lot of catching up to do.”

Park District Executive Director Ray McGury said things are very similar this summer to last summer.

“We didn’t lose revenue last year, although rounds were down, but we cut expenses to offset them,” McGury said. “We continue to look for ways to maximize the courses’ usage as well as offer deals to our customers so we can increase round play.”

Provow said that to date, “no outings have been cancelled” and that other programs including golf lessons have been holding steady.

“We are primarily a daily fee course and group outings aren’t where a lot of players are coming from, but we haven’t had to cancel any so far,” he said. “Our golf range business has been steady, and though some of our lessons have been cancelled due to weather, at this point we’ve got a good schedule of lessons and we’re all caught up.”

Provow said changes were made about four years to extend the golf season and that once again, courses would remain open as long as players are able to come out.

“In 2011 and 2012, we were open a total of 23 months over that time span,” he said. “We have a pretty loyal following of players, and hopefully they’ll be playing deep into November or maybe longer.”

McGury said there are plans to expand course use this fall by offering a new option.

“We will be offering ‘foot golf’ this fall. It’s a version of golf but played like soccer,” McGury said. “It is becoming very popular here in the Midwest and something families can do together. No clubs are needed, just your foot. Mother Nature isn’t sold on any of this, however, and unfortunately continues to hamper our efforts.”

Park District Director of Marketing and Communications Sameera Luthman admits that “rain presents challenges” in terms of recreation and that the district is doing what it can despite all the wet, unplayable days.

“We do the best we can and the last couple of years, we’ve tried to grow the game with programs with youth and family golf,” she said. “We’re always looking to add new things, but when it rains, people aren’t going to golf. We’ve offered specials at the GolfNow.com website which is a popular Midwest resource, but our course has competitive rates.”

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