As demand for golf surges, Breckenridge Town Council assesses effect on locals

The snow-capped Tenmile Range is seen from Breckenridge Golf Club in June 2020.
Photo by Antonio Olivero /

At its Aug. 10 meeting, the Breckenridge Town Council assessed the boom in demand for golf in Breckenridge and how it relates to other town trends affecting locals.

The town’s first-year Director of Golf Operations Patrick Clary said at the meeting that numbers were up 25% this summer after a spike of 27% in 2020. The town of Breckenridge operates three nine-hole courses: the Elk, Beaver and Bear 9.

Clary said the jump compares with a 14% spike in golf rounds nationally.

“I couldn’t imagine any busier than last year, and we are already,” Clary said to the council. “We are probably going to double that.”

Clary said the course in recent days put out 420 players without one of them being a single golfer. All players were grouped up to accommodate the demand, which also included 33 on a wait list.

“The state of golf in Breckenridge is — I like to tell everybody we are at the epicenter of the most popular golf course in the state of Colorado,” Clary said.

Clary said as of Aug. 2, the town golf club exceeded its sales from 2020’s record year, sailing past $2.7 million with nearly half the season left.

“As much as golf is up, it kind of brings some real-world problems into it,” Clary said. “Because, as popular as everything else, it’s kind of like summer at Disneyland. It’s hard to get everything you want. So we have the challenges of having to mix the local population with the out-of-towners and use that delicate balance to be in the best interest of the golf club.”

Clary said 37% of the club’s daily tee sheet is set aside for local play compared with 42% for out-of-town golfers.

Breckenridge Town Manager Rick Holman and Clary spoke at the meeting about how some locals said it is harder this year to reserve a tee time. Clary said interest has spiked this year among Breckenridge residents and nonresidents. Among local players, he said 144 more resident cards were sold this year compared with last year. He estimated that jump to be 25% to 30%.

“That’s a huge deal,” Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula said. “That tells you where your problem is right there in terms of them being able to get on.”

“It’s a big jump,” Clary said. “The state of golf in the country is outstanding.”

“It’s the same problem we’re having with everything,” Mamula later said. “It’s all new people who moved to the community because of COVID. … (It) just goes to housing and everything else we talk about. It’s important numbers because when we have these discussions with people and they say, ‘The new guy is screwing stuff up,’ the answer is, ‘No, the percentage is the same. There’s just more locals.'”

Clary said the club’s current 10-minute intervals between sending golf groups off to play is “stretching it.” He said reducing to six-minute intervals to accommodate more golfers would be disastrous, pushing rounds well past five hours in length on busy afternoons.

Although the demand has been a stretch for staff, Clary said employee morale is high and that the club has a solid team of workers. He added that even with the spike in golf demand, the course is in the best condition in recent history after it had almost no winter kill.

“It looks like no one’s played it,” he said.

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