The Virginia resort has made many changes in the Covid era, and business is booming as golfers return to action
As golf emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, Golf News Hub is conducting interviews with various leaders on the state of the industry. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
In our latest Golf News Hub Q & A, Brian Alley, director of golf and recreation at Primland Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, shares how the elite property in Meadows of Dan has successfully managed operations during the pandemic. The Highland Course at Primland ranks among the top 35 in Golf Digest’s public access courses in the U.S.
GNH: How has The Highland Course at Primland fared business-wise during the coronavirus pandemic?
Alley: Fortunately, we’re doing very well with our golf operation, mirroring how golf has been thriving as an industry. We had more rounds played in July of 2020 than we did in 2019, which is hopefully a great sign of things to come. We’re seeing more players come back to the game, and not just at the corporate level; rather, because they want to get out and play in a safe environment while enjoying all the game offers. I stay in touch with public and private courses in our area and found that they were similarly busy, which is consistent with the reports coming out of the PGA of America, National Golf Foundation and other industry organizations.
GNH: What steps has Primland taken to ensure the golf operation is as safe as possible?
Alley: Starting with inside golf operations, our staff is wearing masks and gloves. We have a plexiglass shield between our guests and team members and increased signage to increase awareness of physical distancing. We have created sanitation stations throughout our clubhouse. Our outside operation is also different in many ways. We have players place their own bags on golf carts so we can minimize touchpoints. No one has to reach in the golf cups or handle the flagsticks. We sanitize all the frequent touchpoints on the golf carts, including steering wheels, GPS screens, and handles. We have removed sand bottles from the golf carts, and we’re filling divots by hand daily.
GNH: What are your thoughts about the golf industry’s future given the pandemic and uncertainty about what’s to come?
Alley: As we’ve seen so far, people are returning to the game, or playing it more, because the pandemic underscores how ideal a social distancing environment like golf can be. When safeguards are put in place, like we are doing, the risk is heavily mitigated. It’s not just public access courses that are doing well. Business at private golf clubs is off the charts. As long as safety predominates the thinking pertaining to everyone’s operational strategy, we’re optimistic about the future of the game.
GNH: What is your biggest takeaway from working through the pandemic?
Alley: It’s two-fold. First, golf has long needed a jolt to increase players and the amount they play. The current situation has people seeing golf differently than before – as a great outdoors, athletic, social activity that benefits their lives physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s wonderful to welcome individuals again who are coming back to the game. Breathing fresh air amid beautiful landscapes, while getting exercise and enjoying camaraderie, is a wonderful diversion to our recent reality. Many people are increasingly embracing not only golf but other physically distanced outdoor activities. Second, we’ve had to adapt. It’s been invigorating to see our team so open-minded and diligent. Ironically, it has provided many of us with ideas on how to do things differently going forward. Our guests have been very appreciative of our protocols, knowing that we’re committed to providing a safe, highest-quality experience.