Golf is maintaining a revival in engagement around Colorado Springs and the nation after the COVID-19 pandemic drove people outside and sparked a new interest in the sport.
“Golf is definitely making a comeback, the demand for teaching is very, very high,” said Mark Keelbell, former Broadmoor president and director of programs at the Broadmoor Cady and Leadership Academy.
Golf has been a natural activity many people turn to during the pandemic because it’s been outdoors, making it easier for socializing while providing human contact With COVID-19 ebbs, golf has been a safe way to get out of the house and back into the world, Kepelle said.
“I think people have rediscovered golf as a great option for their physical and mental health,” Keelbel said. “Because you can go out, you can socialize, it gives people a reason to get dressed and go to the golf course.”
Kelbel has spent his life rooted in golf, but his most recent roles have included teaching. By running the Broadmoor Caddy & Leadership Academy, Kelbel helps teens learn leadership skills while exposing them to golf. Kelbel also founded Fearless Golf, a non-profit program that uses golf to help youth and at-risk youth find a healthier lifestyle.
Fearless Golf has doubled in size over the past year from 100 participants to 200, and Broadmoor Caddy & Leadership Academy has grown more than 40% over the previous year, Keelbell said.
“I would say that anyone who discovers it or rediscovers it (golf) is very fortunate because of the lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic,” Kelbel said. “Which means we simply shouldn’t take any day for granted in terms of our physical or mental health and the ability to go out and enjoy each other’s company.”
With interest in golf growing, Kelpel said he’d like to see more public courses in Colorado Springs.
Over the years, many golf courses in Colorado Springs have closed, including Appletree Golf Course, Vineyard Golf Club, and Silver Spruce Golf Course. It was one of the most recent losses springs farmwhich is a privately owned course, accessible to the public on the east side of the city.
“Public courses are great entry points,” Keelbel said. “It’s a great entry point for education. It’s a great entry point to just be comfortable on the golf course, and get to know people through it.”
The demand for golf is pushing public courses like Patty Jewett Golf Course to the extreme.
Over the summer, Patrick Jewett booked 98% of her playtime in 2022, with the number of rounds increasing 10% over the 2019 course, Colorado Springs golf director Patrick Gentile said. Jowett and Hay Valley Golf.
Similar to Kelbel, which saw a slight rise in young golfers, Gentile saw more younger golfers and more female golfers on the course.
“What we’re seeing is sort of a different kind of dynamic for golfers today,” Gentile said. “We have more youngsters. … somewhere in the 20 to 40 range playing more than they did.”
Young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 make up the largest age segment of golf customers, with 6.1 million people in the United States, according to data from the National Golf Foundation.
Gentile said that other golf options in the Colorado Springs area such as Topgolf, a bar and party venue where customers can hit balls, help spark interest in golf for people who might not otherwise consider it. The Top Golf Springs location opened in August of last year.
Club Champion founder Nick Sherburne said Club Champion, a club-friendly studio that opened at 7431 N. Academy Blvd in May, has been given a warm welcome at The Springs.
“Colorado Springs got off to a very strong start,” he said of the new location. “And easily… it should exceed our expectations for the first year.”
Sherburne said his company saw an opportunity to thrive in Colorado Springs due to weather, population growth, customer demographics, and surrounding golf courses like The Broadmoor.
Colorado Springs is the third club championship site in Colorado as well as Highlands Ranch and Westminster.
“It’s a good golf state…there are so many great golf courses in Colorado that people don’t always think about,” Sherburne said.