Jersey Meadow, located on Rio Grande Street in the city of Jersey Village, was completely closed in late March and remained closed for the entire month of April due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Matt Jones, who serves as head golf professional at the course. After reopening May 1, Jones said the course is on par for its best month at least since the city assumed ownership in early 2000.
"It hasn't been this busy probably ever," Jones said in a May 26 phone interview. "We're at our maximum. We can't get any busier."
Through May 26, the golf course had brought in about $184,500 for the month of May, putting it on course to potentially reach $220,000 by the end of the month, Jones said. By comparison, in May 2019, the golf course raised about $138,000. In the 2008-09 fiscal year, which Jones said was the best in the course's recorded history, about $184,000 was raised in May.
The record-setting revenue comes as officials said they are limiting the number of tee times per hour, Jones said. People are only allowed to play in groups of four, and instead of having tee times every eight minutes, they have been spread out to every 12 minutes, he said.
"What that does is really help space people out," Jones said. "We literally will see four people, and 10 minutes will go by, and we'll see another four people."
A number of other changes have been implemented at the golf course to try to prevent the spread of the virus, Jones said. Only four people are allowed in the golf pro shop at one time, and only one rider is allowed per golf cart while golfing, he said. Carts are sanitized and completely washed down in between uses.
The city also approved the purchase of new golf carts earlier in the year, before the pandemic, each equipped with a GPS monitoring system and digital scoring, which Jones said removes the need for pencils and score cards. Staff also outfitted each hole with a PVC pipe that keeps golf balls from sinking more than one inch into the hole, so hundreds of golfers do not have reaching into the same holes throughout the day, he said.
The bar and grill is open at 50% capacity, and tables are spaced out in accordance with state guidelines. The course stopped accepting cash payments and handing out receipts since reopening, and every staff member is also required to wear a mask.
"We have probably gone overboard with restrictions," Jones said. "I’m pretty proud of what we’ve come up with."
Despite spacing out tee times, Jones said about 4,360 rounds of golf have still been played in May, up from 3,196 in May 2019. Tee times are largely booked from open until close, Jones said. This past Saturday, May 23, Jones said the course saw 220 rounds and made almost $12,000.
Moving forward, Jones said the course is unlikely to go back to having tee times every eight minutes, which he said can lead to backlogs if too many people are on the course at once. At some point, he said he might move to a "happy medium" by having them every 10 minutes.
Jones said the golf course was having a good year prior to the coronavirus and he is not sure how much of the boon in May can be attributed to the reopening and how much can be attributed to the general upward trend. In the meantime, Jones said he will keep focusing on safety.
"I’m real happy that our business is booming and that we can give people something to do that gets them out of the house," he said. "When you’re playing golf, you can social distance very easily. It’s wide open out here."