Early in the pandemic, the Western New York golf community was bracing itself for a lost season, but Steve Bartkowski was resilient and told WIVB-TV that he saw good times ahead for the sport.

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“I was doing calls with our pros, trying to figure out what was going on” recalled Bartkowski, the director of the Western New York PGA. “I said, once this goes and there’s no baseball and other stuff, you’re all going to get busy’.”

Others were not so optimistic...

“We all thought we were going to have one of our worst years ever, ever, ever,” said Steve Carney, the long-time pro at Holiday Valley and PGA master professional.

It turns out in retrospect that things got very busy on local courses once the Governor gave golf the go-ahead on April 20, with certain safety restrictions. A season that had many in the sport thought would be lost turned into one of the most successful in recent years.

“Because of the lack of things to do indoors, it seems like golf just took off,” Carney said. “On top of that, we have probably a perfect weather year. At Holiday Valley, we have not lost a weekend.”

Rob Milbrand, who owns Holland Hills Golf Course, said it’s been his best season in at least five years. He estimated rounds are up 20-25 percent.

“Every weekend is sold out,” he said. “I’ve been booked the last five Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can’t get in here.”

The main reasons ...people didn’t take vacations due to COVID-19, and the weather was gorgeous and conducive for play.

It's almost like the pandemic has allowed people to rediscover the simple pleasures in life. People are reconnecting with the game, or discovering it for the first time.

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