By MATTHEW CARNERO MACIAS
On Memorial Day, the Mineral Mound State Park Golf Course set records for attendance and revenue, contributing to a surplus of more than $100,000 for the current fiscal year’s budget.
Despite COVID-19 spending restrictions last year, Park Manager Chris Cary is delighted with course operations and the 2021 outlook.
Quarantine and lockdowns influenced recreationists to return to the sport, while others ventured into a new one.
“There wasn’t competition. We benefited and picked up new golfers,” Cary said.
Unlike other golf courses, Mineral Mound Golf Course is managed and administered by the state. The course is situated on Lake Barkley, so golfers tend to be on vacation.
Besides “stay and play” golfers, local enthusiasts and players frequented the course in higher numbers.
“What we saw was local play grow,” Cary said. “They’re either boating or golfing.”
Surrounding businesses are not doing as well, Cary explained, as nearby restaurants don’t have the staff to meet the golfer’s needs.
The course in Eddyville is operating with one-third of staff capacity. Cary said hiring remains a struggle but has accelerated due to the pandemic.
Currently, the park employs 10 staff members; a handful of volunteers work in the pro shop.
Positions sought are maintenance and pro shop, but applicants must be 18 or older. Cary acknowledges that the age requirement is a deterrent.
Cary explained the labor pool is not sustainable, as potential employees are not willing to travel to the course to work. To adapt, Cary has bumped starting pay to $12 an hour.
Cary noted the local labor pool does not replenish and recuperate after teenagers and young adults migrate for college, leaving retirees, full-time professionals, and under-age prospects to fill the workforce.
With the influx of business, Cary plans to rehab 36 bunkers, priced at $2,000 each.
He is also preparing irrigation repairs. In 2019, the greens were renovated.
Upcoming events at the course include the Lake Barkley Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Classic in August.