ROCHELLE — If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s to make the best of a not-so-great situation. That’s what they did at Fairways Golf Course in Rochelle.
“Last year, we had two golf outings,” Mitch Hamilton, director of golf at Fairways said, adding that even those outings were at 50 percent capacity. “This year, we have 14 scheduled,” adding that capacity restrictions have been lifted.
And there’s more good news, Fairways Golf Course will be the home course for the Kishwaukee College golf team going forward. Hamilton explained that outside the golf meets, the team also will do 16 hours of volunteer work, per teammate, at the course and they’re going to host their fundraiser at Fairways. In addition, the Kish golf team will assist the Flagg-Rochelle Community Park with its golf camp this summer.
The course opened March 13 this year, Hamilton said they typically shoot for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, to open so they got a jump on that. In addition to adding the college as regulars, Hamilton said he’s taking fliers to all the hotels in town and offering guests discounts along with free rental clubs to entice visitors who come to the “Hub City.”
Currently, the golf course benefits from the city’s hotel/motel tax, so he saw this as an opportunity to get visitors interested in the golf course.
Thus far, it’ll be different than last year when they weren’t allowed to open until May 1, and that was under restrictions.
“You’ll probably never see a water cooler on a golf course ever again,” Hamilton said.
Last year, golfers had to walk the course and all the benches had to be overturned so no one would sit on them.
He said that wasn’t popular with the golfers as there weren’t places to sit and rest anywhere on the course, even though they had to walk.
Financially, it could have been worse, but he said 2020 recorded 1,600 more rounds of golf than the previous year. “Our money comes from people playing golf,” Hamilton explained, adding that they were capable of keeping the turf and playing conditions the same as previous years.
Financially, the golf course is in good shape with “$60,000 cash in hand,” at the end of the season.
Hamilton explained that surplus came from the combination of the increase in golfers, which he didn’t expect, as well as some budget cuts.
That gives them roughly $100,000 in reserves if something like this comes up again.
“We can survive if something like this comes up again,” Hamilton said.