Travelers Championship

Golf Sees Increase in Popularity During Pandemic

NBC Universal, Inc.

There's a lot of excitement for the upcoming Travelers Championship as the best golfers in the world come to Connecticut. Interest in the game continues to grow and golf courses in Connecticut have been busy.

"Definitely, try getting a tee time here [at Timberlin Golf Course in Berlin] during the week, [it's] very hard to do and I'm sure that's the same for many courses in the state," said Peter Halibozek, of Kensington.

"I take advantage of every opportunity to play," James Bugella, of Berlin, said. "I have a very understanding wife."

Golfers have taken advantage of having a little more free time and working from home while also enjoying the safety benefits of being outside.

"Ever since the pandemic, people discovered they could be safe on the golf course," John Baptiste, of Newington, said.

"We're up about 1,200 rounds this year over last year at the height of the pandemic," Jerry Salvio, acting director of golf at Timberlin Golf Course, said.

"Here at our club, we're up about 30 percent in activity, which is a great place to be," Ron Scheyd, head golf professional at TPC River Highlands, said.

The courses aren't the only places seeing increased demand.

Chris Cote's golf shop in Southington has seen a boom in demand for golf equipment.

"It was like exponential growth," said Danielle Cote, the communications director at Chris Cote's Golf Shop. "Grips, shafts, club heads, even push carts. The push carts are such a hot commodity."

Even as people return to the office and presumably have more free time, those in the industry believe this is just the beginning.

"I don't see it going away anytime soon," Salvio said. "I think people were either reinvigorated by the sport coming back after years of not playing or just trying it for the first time, getting hooked on it."

"We have more young, junior golfers coming out to play more than they've ever," Bugella added.

"I think because of COVID, there will be a lot more lifelong golfers," Cote said.

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