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Golf courses have seen increase in rounds of play recently

Fred Brust, a veteran who works in the pro shop at Arroyo del Oso Golf Course, has seen the Albuquerque city course busy, but it hasn’t been this hectic in a long time.

The action at Arroyo and several golf courses in Albuquerque has been non-stop since the courses reopened May 1 after being shut down for a little over a month due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are several guidelines for golfers to follow — now they must wear face coverings at all times — but golf is one of the few activities available at this time. So, golfers are flocking to the links.

“We’re busier than hell,” Brust said as June came to an end. “Since we reopened we have been slammed. Sometimes, we don’t have enough tee times.”

Tee times at the city’s municipal courses — Arroyo, Ladera, Los Altos, and Puerto del Sol — are booked throughout the day. Golfers are calling seven days in advance to schedule a tee time.

At Arroyo, head pro Tony Hidalgo said it has been “super busy,” since the golf course reopened in May. Arroyo saw 10,907 rounds of golf played in May, according to records provided by the city. That’s an increase of more than 3,000 rounds from last year when Arroyo had 7,782 played in May of 2019.

And, it’s not just the city courses. The public and private courses are totally busy as well and managing a steady flow of golfers each day.

Last year, the city of Albuquerque made a concerted effort to increase rounds at its municipal golf courses, director of parks and recreation Dave Simon said, as rounds of play were dropping. Business picked up a bit last summer, but the work has been non-stop for staff at golf courses over the past two months.

There would most likely be even more business, but golf courses are adhering to the guideline of starting groups 15 minutes apart. Golfers also make sure to avoid touching points. Since there can only be one cart per golfer in most cases, all the carts are out by midday at most golf courses in Albuquerque.

Local pros said the heavy business is a silver lining during a strange year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Even days that were slower in the past are very busy for us now,” said Colby Reddoch, the head pro at Los Altos Golf Course. “The tee times go late into the afternoon. We typically slow down later in the day, but that’s not the case now. The tee times go till 5 or 6 o’clock.”

Before golf courses were shut down in March, Ladera typically experienced a lull in business from 2-5 p.m. on most days, head pro Bill Harvey said, but that is not the case now.

“We’re packed till 5 o’clock every day,” Harvey said. “That’s a good thing. Golf is so great for mental health. It’s a good release to be outside and in a safe environment. I think it’s very important.”

Harvey said the staff at Ladera has had to work longer hours since reopening.

“At this point, that’s a good trade-off,” he said. “The people are glad to be working.”

At Puerto del Sol, general manager Mark McFall is seeing record numbers with the amount of rounds played since the golf course reopened in May, he said.

Puerto saw 8,912 rounds played in May and June combined, up from the 6,711 rounds played in those two months in 2019.

“This is easily the best business we’ve had in at least the past six years,” McFall said. “Our driving range has seen very good business, too.”

Puerto del Sol has a night range. The last ball is sold at 9:30 p.m., McFall said, with the range closing at 10 p.m.

He said some golfers stay right to the end.

McFall is OK with that.

Angelo Martinez, left, and Joseph Garcia, next to him, practice on the driving range at Ladera Golf Course on Monday. They are part of a surge of golfers who have taken to the courses since they reopened in May. (Anthony Jackson/ Albuquerque Journal)

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