Tom Beaudry, the general manager and head golf professional at Nemadji Golf Course in Superior, didn’t want to compare the number of rounds golfed this spring to the spring of 2020 just yet.

But he did think it was fair to compare his stress level to that of a year ago at this time.

“My stress level is way, way less this year than it was last year,” Beaudry said. “It was just the unknown and the guidelines and everything that we were having to adhere to, which are similar to what we’re doing this year, but at least we know what we’re doing.”

It’s true, things aren’t back to normal just yet on the public golf courses of Duluth and Superior in the spring of 2021. Nemadji, which follows Douglas County health and safety guidelines, is still limited to a maximum of 50 people for indoor events and 100 for anything outdoors because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

But the consistency of protocols such as mask wearing and social distancing throughout the area, plus golfers' comfort level with those protocols, makes the hoops much easier for everyone to jump through this spring compared to a year ago when things were changing on a week-to-week basis, Beaudry said.

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The number of people getting vaccinated for COVID-19 has also helped, Beaudry said.

“You see the people that say they’ve been vaccinated and I think there is a more relaxed state of mind,” Beaudry said.

Nemadji opened its driving range on March 2 and the course on April 9, which is a week and a half earlier than the spring of 2020.

The earlier opening combined with some good weather has created a pretty nice spring, said Beaudry, who will be much more comfortable comparing 2021 to 2020 around June.

“It’s been great,” Beaudry said. “Even on the days that are not so warm, we’ve had some good traffic.”

Mike Bender, the general manager of Duluth’s Enger Park Golf Course echoed Beaudry, that even on the colder days in April, Enger sees quite a few hearty golfers on the course.

That’s Minnesota for you.

Both courses are coming off strong years in 2020 despite the pandemic. The weather played a major role in the surge, with Beaudry calling it the best he’s seen since entering the golf industry in the early 1990s.

The urge to get out of the house and do something, while also avoiding the coronavirus, also pushed people to either return to golfing after giving up the sport or taking it up for the first time. Bender said it created not only a shortage of tee times, but on golf equipment as well.

While the weather can always put a damper on their expectations, both Enger and Nemadji are once again planning for busy summers.

“We're looking for another great year like last year,” Beaudry said. “Due to COVID, golf was one of the only things that people really could go do, social distance-wise, and feel somewhat safe outside. We're just kind of riding the tailwind of last year.”