One year after Jason Cundiff, U.S. Army retiree, played in the only payday golf scramble at Cole Park Golf Course in 2020, he and three buddies took to the green this month for the long-anticipated return of the popular competition.
“Last year we did our first one March 5, and then COVID-19 shut us down,” said David Normand, business manager for Cole Park Golf Course and golf professional. “We were unable to continue with those payday scrambles and I had people calling every month, all year, asking if we’re going to get to do them. We went exactly one year without doing any tournaments, of any kind, and reopened with our payday scramble March 5.”
Normand submitted a proposal to relaunch the scrambles with fewer teams and added COVID-19 safety precautions. The March 2021 scramble drew a crowd of 54 golfers from 14 teams. The April 2 scramble has already reached its maximum capacity of 18 teams with 72 golfers.
Payday golf scrambles are scheduled for the first Friday of each month through December, although participants cannot register more than one month in advance. Registration for the May scramble will begin after the April 2 scramble is complete.
Building fun and revenue
Normand is excited about the enthusiasm he has seen from golfers ready to compete again and have fun. The scrambles build revenue and keep the golf course running, while attracting new people for the first time, he said.
“It’s building golf, building clientele and creating revenue,” Normand said. “While they’re playing, they’re having sandwiches, having drinks, buying balls, buying gloves, buying range tokens for the driving range. They’re touching the different revenue centers that help us keep these doors open.”
The course was closed at the beginning of the pandemic, but was one of the first Fort Campbell Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities to reopen, thanks to its outdoor setting and the staff’s COVID-19 mitigation measures.
The payday golf scrambles are open to Soldiers, retirees and civilians. They begin at 1 p.m. and contestants will be in one of three flights, depending on skill level, with prizes awarded for the top three teams in each flight.
Most prizes are gift certificates for the golf pro shop. There also are prizes for the golfer who gets closest to the cup on each Par-3 hole.
“Winners receive gift certificates to the well-stocked professional shop. We give a $20 or $30 gift certificate. They get something, it makes them feel good and they enjoy that,” Normand said. “They can either go spend that or hold onto them for a while and let them build up and then get what they want. We try to spread the wealth, so to speak, so we don’t have the same good players winning everything.”
Making a comeback
Cundiff’s team was only one stroke away from first place in the March 5 scramble but ended in third place. He said they are eager to redeem themselves April 2.
“We’re going to get first place this time,” Cundiff said.
Although he was happy to use gift certificate he won at the pro shop for golf balls, Cundiff said he plays for the camaraderie with his teammates and the challenge.
Normand wants people to know the course is open and the Cole Park Golf Course staff are eager to serve golfers.
“We need to try to start getting back to some sense of normalcy,” he said. “Tournaments are a huge part of our business, so that’s a significant revenue flow that I need to have in place. If I don’t have it, it makes it hard to do some of the things we do out here.”
The cost to enter is $30 per person, which covers green fees and golf carts. There is a discount for club members.
In past years, payday golf scrambles drew an average of 25 teams with 100 players each month, but that had to be scaled back for COVID-19 mitigation so registration will be much more competitive this year, Normand said.
“You’ve got to get in early because it’s going to fill up fast,” he said.
To make a reservation for a future scramble, call 270-798-4906 or visit Cole Park Golf Course, 1610 101st Airborne Division Road.